John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Showing posts for "South Africa"

World AIDS Day 2016 in South Africa

by John Campbell
Mpho Bogagane, a child who is born with AIDS, is consoled by South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after she gave a speech at the orphanage Nkosi's Haven, which was named after Nkosi Johnson, one of the youngest victims of the HIV epidemic who died in 2001 from the disease, during the launch of the 5-Day countdown ahead of the AIDS2016 International Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Mpho Bogagane, a child who is born with AIDS, is consoled by South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after she gave a speech at the orphanage Nkosi's Haven, which was named after Nkosi Johnson, one of the youngest victims of the HIV epidemic who died in 2001 from the disease, during the launch of the 5-Day countdown ahead of the AIDS2016 International Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Thursday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a fitting occasion to call attention to an HIV vaccine clinical trial that has started in South Africa. The vaccine being tested is based on one used in a Thailand trial in 2009 which had a protection rate of about 30 percent, reports the BBC. Results from the South Africa trial will be known in about four years. Read more »

A Reminder that South Africa’s Ruling Party is Multiracial

by John Campbell
Derek Hanekom (C), head of the ANC disciplinary panel, announces the verdict for Youth League leader Julius Malema at the party's head quarters in Johannesburg, November 10, 2011. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Derek Hanekom (C), head of the ANC disciplinary panel, announces the verdict for Youth League leader Julius Malema at the party's head quarters in Johannesburg, November 10, 2011. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom appears to have been the initiator of the African National Congress’s (ANC) November 27-29 in-house debate over whether to recall Jacob Zuma as party leader. (Zuma survived, but is further weakened politically within the ANC by the episode.) Hanekom, who is white, is a useful reminder that the ANC remains a multi-racial party, though its electoral base is overwhelmingly black. In the aftermath of the ANC’s Zuma debate, some black political officials that backed the president accused Hanekom of “racism,” but others defended him as a full member of the movement, even though he is white. Read more »

South Africa’s Wounded President Zuma Survives

by John Campbell
Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Over the weekend of November 27, Jacob Zuma faced his greatest political challenge to date, a vote of ‘no-confidence’ from within his own party, the African National Congress (ANC). He had previously survived three no-confidence votes in parliament, where the party rallied around him. This time, however, the challenge, orchestrated by four ministers, was within the National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest governance body within the ANC. Read more »

Fallout Over The Poacher’s Pipeline Documentary

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A white female rhino named Kuda is dehorned by the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation (AWARE) at Lake Chivero Recreational Park in Norton, Zimbabwe, August 25, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) A white female rhino named Kuda is dehorned by the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation (AWARE) at Lake Chivero Recreational Park in Norton, Zimbabwe, August 25, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has released a new documentary titled The Poacher’s Pipeline. The report documents the illicit supply chain of rhinoceros horn from South Africa to China and Vietnam. The report associates South Africa’s minister of state security with an admitted trafficker, and it alleges that Chinese officials that traveled to South Africa with Secretary General Xi Jinping participated in the illicit trade. Read more »

Misaligned Incentives Handcuff the ICC

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Jerry Lampen) The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Jerry Lampen)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn. Cheryl is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.

Burundi, Gambia, and now South Africa have all recently announced their intentions to withdraw from what they deride as a “biased” International Criminal Court (ICC). The permanent tribunal responsible for investigating crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes that was created in 1998. It’s the latest indignity to the court that has been weakened not only by misaligned incentives that enable it to bring cases globally and yet rely mostly upon member states to enforce its actions, but also by the cozy relationship that has emerged between the ICC’s members and its cases. Thirty-four of its 123 members are African states and all thirty-one individuals that the office of the prosecutor has charged with crimes since the ICC began operating in 2002 are African. Read more »

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s Nine Lives

by John Campbell
Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

The publication on November 2 of the South Africa Public Protector’s report on “state capture” by the president and his cronies, the Gupta family, would seem to indicate Jacob Zuma’s direct involvement in corruption. The publication has created a media stir, with the quality Western media devoting more extensive coverage to it than is usual. Yet, the report does not contain a “smoking gun,” but rather calls for an extensive (and well-financed) formal investigation. Read more »

Elections: U.S. Prestige Takes a Hit in Africa

by John Campbell
Katie Hartman, a correspondent for Seriously.TV, poses outside Hofstra University, the site of the September 26 first presidential debate between U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton) Katie Hartman, a correspondent for Seriously.TV, poses outside Hofstra University, the site of the September 26 first presidential debate between U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

The U.S. image in Africa has been based on more than trade and aid. Africans admire and seek to emulate U.S. rule of law and institutions of governance largely free of corruption. They seek to emulate American elections that are credible and accepted by winners and losers. U.S. ethnic and religious pluralism has long been admired. So, too, has been the American tradition of at least some civility in politics. With the ambiguous exception of Liberia, the United States was not a colonial power and public opinion (if not government policy) was generally hostile to colonialism. The success of American democracy and governance made U.S. criticism of “big man” and other sleazy governments credible to Africans. Read more »

The “K-word” in South Africa and Proposed New Penalties Against Hate Speech

by John Campbell
Members of South African President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party march to the headquarters of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) during a march against racism in Cape Town, in this picture taken January 22, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Members of South African President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party march to the headquarters of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) during a march against racism in Cape Town, in this picture taken January 22, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Following the social media circulation of a video in which a white woman lashes out at black police officers using racial slurs, the Zuma administration is proposing harsher penalties against hate speech. Proposed legislation would move hate speech cases from civil courts to criminal courts in South Africa. Currently punishable only by fines, “racist utterances and many other incidents of vicious crimes perpetrated under the influence of racial hate…has necessitated further measures,” according to the minister of justice. If the proposed legislation becomes law, a first-time offender could face three years in prison and a repeat offender up to ten years. Read more »

South Africa’s President Zuma as Mafioso

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma laughs ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's medium term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, October 26, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) South African President Jacob Zuma laughs ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's medium term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, October 26, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

Critics worldwide of South African President Jacob Zuma characterize his administration as “Mafiosi” in style. South African society is characterized by gross inequality, generally with blacks on the bottom and whites on top. Ostensibly, the president’s goal is the “transformation” of this characterization of society, even if that means an assault on constitutional institutions and the rule of law. However, in cahoots with personal allies, notably the Gupta family, instead of “transformation” he is seeking to remain in power and preserve his wealth. Thus far, he has been successfully countered by the strength of South Africa’s institutions, a mobilized civil society, and the democratic faction within the African National Congress (ANC). Calls for his early recall are mounting within the ANC. A trenchant exposition of this “Mafioso” perspective is provided by Richard Poplak, in the Daily Maverick. Read more »

South Africa’s Possible Withdraw from the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma administration’s notice to the United Nations of its intention to withdraw from the International criminal Court (ICC) has been received with consternation by civil society organizations such as Amnesty International. However, it is unclear, even unlikely, that the Zuma administration can take such a step without a parliamentary vote. It is also unclear whether parliament would go along. Read more »