John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "South Africa"

What to Do About Sudan’s al-Bashir and the UN General Assembly?

by John Campbell
Outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (R) of Argentina leaves after the swearing-in ceremony to install Fatou Bensouda of Gambia as his successor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands June 15, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Bas Czerwinski/Pool) Outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (R) of Argentina leaves after the swearing-in ceremony to install Fatou Bensouda of Gambia as his successor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands June 15, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Bas Czerwinski/Pool)

In early August, the Sudanese UN envoy stated that Sudan President al-Bashir plans to travel to New York to speak at the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA). Al-Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court. Countries that are signatory to the Rome Statute are required to apprehend those indicted and to hand them over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). That almost happened earlier in the summer when al-Bashir attended an African Union summit in South Africa. A South African superior court ordered the Zuma administration to arrest him. In that case, al-Bashir, perhaps with the connivance of the Zuma administration, left before the court’s order could be carried out. (The Zuma administration’s failure to arrest al-Bashir is still before the South African courts.) Read more »

South Africa’s Paralympian and Gender Based Violence

by John Campbell
South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (C) is escorted to a police van after his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, ending a trial that has gripped South Africa and the world. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (C) is escorted to a police van after his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, ending a trial that has gripped South Africa and the world. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

It is conventional wisdom that South Africa has a very high rate of domestic abuse. (Exact rates are unknown due to irregularities in South Africa’s statistics, combined with the fact that gender based violence is vastly underreported worldwide.) Oscar Pistorius is a celebrated South African athlete who competed in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, using prostheses (his legs were amputated as a child). In 2014, he killed his live-in girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a South African model. At the trial, he said he believed she was an intruder. He was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter before a black, female judge, Thokozile Masipa. (The race and gender of the judge caused little comment.) She found that the prosecution failed to prove intent, necessary for a murder charge. The trial was the occasion for much South African soul-searching, not least about domestic abuse and gender-based violence. Read more »

Putin’s Russia and Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Eugene Steinberg, an assistant editor at the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 1961 to 1992, one of Moscow’s most prestigious schools bore the name of Patrice Lumumba, the Soviet-supported Congolese independence leader brutally executed in 1961. Patrice Lumumba University recruited and educated generations of foreign leaders, especially African leaders, and was just one of the many ways in which the Soviet Union cultivated ties with Africa. Then with the fall of the Soviet Union, after years of pouring money, arms, and manpower into left-leaning anticolonial movements, Russia’s presence in Africa, and Lumumba University, nearly disappeared overnight. But today, two decades later, Russia is once again working to establish a foothold on the continent. Read more »

South Africa’s Independent Judiciary

by John Campbell
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Party (EFF), waves to supporters during his party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power. (Courtesy Reuters/Skyler Reid) Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Party (EFF), waves to supporters during his party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power. (Courtesy Reuters/Skyler Reid)

Julius Malema has been convicted of anti-white hate speech, and advocates the nationalization of white property without compensation. He has attacked the governing African National Congress (ANC) establishment, ranging from former president Thabo Mbeki to current president Jacob Zuma to possible future president Cyril Ramaphosa. He is the founder of a radical, populist political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which won 6 percent of the vote in the 2014 elections, making it the third largest party in parliament. The EFF has disrupted parliamentary sittings, notably in its protests against President Zuma’s alleged corruption with respect to his private estate, Nkandla. Read more »

Better Economic News from South Africa

by John Campbell
Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid) Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid)

South Africa’s general malaise owes much to its very slow recovery from the international economic crisis that began in the United States in 2008. The country’s gross domestic product growth rate has declined from a usual 3 percent to 1.5 percent in 2014. Weaker commodities prices have also slowed an economy that still includes a large mineral export sector. Read more »

South Africa Tops African University Rankings

by John Campbell
Second-year civil engineering student and first-time voter Nkululeko Simelane poses for a picture at Wits University in Johannesburg, April 22, 2014. Nkululeko said "For me voting for the first time... I don't want to lie I don't have the energy. The only thing that is pushing me to vote is that it is for the first time I don't want to miss it". Around 20 million South Africans - or some 40 percent of the population - are so-called "Born Frees," the term bestowed on the first generation to grow up with no memory of apartheid. April 27 this year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first multi-racial elections, which ended three centuries of white domination and 46 years of formalised oppression of the black majority under the apartheid system. Picture taken April 22, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Second-year civil engineering student and first-time voter Nkululeko Simelane poses for a picture at Wits University in Johannesburg, April 22, 2014. Nkululeko said "For me voting for the first time... I don't want to lie I don't have the energy. The only thing that is pushing me to vote is that it is for the first time I don't want to miss it". Around 20 million South Africans - or some 40 percent of the population - are so-called "Born Frees," the term bestowed on the first generation to grow up with no memory of apartheid. April 27 this year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first multi-racial elections, which ended three centuries of white domination and 46 years of formalised oppression of the black majority under the apartheid system. Picture taken April 22, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Numerous organizations and publications rank universities around the world. The value of the exercise is inherently controversial, and by definition it has winners and losers. Nevertheless, rankings always command a large audience. One ranking that focuses on Africa is Journals Consortium. According to its website, it offers scholarly publishers web applications that provide technical, marketing, and editorial support “critical to the success of their journals in the e-publishing environment.” It has compiled a rank-order list of the one hundred top universities in Africa. Its stated criteria is research publications, scholarly citations, and visibility on the internet. In this ranking, African universities are competing only against other African universities, rather than with institutions outside the continent. Read more »

South African Democracy and the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

For this outsider, the parliamentary and judicial response to the Zuma administration’s failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and turn him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides a window in to the state of South African democracy. To me, it is clear that the Zuma government broke both South African and international law by not only failing to hold al-Bashir, though specifically ordered to do so by the South African judiciary, but also facilitated his clandestine departure. South African law is relevant because the South African government at the time incorporated the ICC treaty into its own legal system. Read more »

South Africa’s EFF and Charleston

by John Campbell
Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a populist , far-left “revolutionary” political party led by Julius Malema is now the third largest in South Africa’s National Assembly under the system of proportional representation, though it received only about 6.35 percent of the votes in the 2014 elections. It has issued a statement on the Emanuel Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. It will have credibility, especially to those unfamiliar the United States. Read more »

South African Rule of Law Threatened

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

From the perspective of the expectations of Nelson Mandela, South Africa has been treading water, if not worse, especially since the national elections of 2014. Economic growth remains an anemic 2 percent or less, thereby challenging Mandela’s assumption that poverty could be eliminated rapidly. Public concerns about corruption remain unaddressed. Parliament appears increasingly dysfunctional. Its procedures are under assault by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and stonewalling tactics by the Zuma government over corruption. Read more »

Al-Bashir and the Rule of Law in South Africa

by John Campbell
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (L) at the Palace in Khartoum February 1 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (L) at the Palace in Khartoum February 1 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The media’s take on the failure of South Africa’s Zuma government to hold Sudanese President al-Bashir is that it is a slap in the face of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The press drama is focused on al-Bashir and the credible charges of genocide that he faces before the ICC, and the many African objections to the way the court operates. Read more »