John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "South Africa"

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 »

Bans on Wildlife Trade Gaining Steam

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic). An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic).

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

At the end of May the Chinese government announced that following a one year ban on ivory imports, it will “strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.” If the Chinese are able to follow through, this could be one of the most important actions taken to end the illicit trade of Ivory that is contributing to the decimation of elephant populations in Africa (China is the largest market for elephant ivory). Read more »

The Mind of the African Strongman

by John Campbell
South African Nobel Peace laureates Nelson Mandela (L) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2nd L) arrive for the 70th birthday celebrations of fellow laureate former President FW de Klerk (2nd R) in Cape Town, March 17, 2006. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) South African Nobel Peace laureates Nelson Mandela (L) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2nd L) arrive for the 70th birthday celebrations of fellow laureate former President FW de Klerk (2nd R) in Cape Town, March 17, 2006. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Herman J. Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for Africa, former ambassador, and former special assistant for African affairs to President Reagan, has written a fascinating and clear-eyed book on his “conversations with dictators, statesmen, and father figures.” His interlocutors, including more than sixteen African heads of state, range from Leopold Senghor to Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk. Read more »

Major Airlines Ban Animal Cargo

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, with Tail Number A6-EEV, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, April 11, 2015. (Reuters/Louis Nastro) An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, with Tail Number A6-EEV, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, April 11, 2015. (Reuters/Louis Nastro)

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

In April, South African Airways (SAA) announced that SAA Cargo, the company’s airfreight division, would no longer transport hunting trophies from rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers, and lions internationally. Shortly after, in May, Emirates Airlines announced that they would no longer transport the very same trophies. Read more »

The Conflicting Messages of Jacob Zuma

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015.  (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has denounced the anti-immigrant violence racking his country while also promising to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration. It’s a tricky and dangerous high stakes game to play, one that does not address the nation’s underlying problems of unemployment and poverty, and that sadly puts South Africa’s stability at stake. Read more »