John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "South Africa"

Outlook for South Africa’s Governing Party

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma greets supporters at a rally to commemorate the 105th birthday of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Soweto, South Africa, January 8, 2017. (Reuters/James Oatway) South African President Jacob Zuma greets supporters at a rally to commemorate the 105th birthday of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Soweto, South Africa, January 8, 2017. (Reuters/James Oatway)

The African National Congress (ANC) celebrated the 105th anniversary of its founding on January 8 in Johannesburg. (The ANC is one of the older of the democratic world’s governing parties.) Last year was a bad year for the party. National president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma was tarred by credible accusations of personal corruption and that of close associates. He met judicial and political reversals. The economy grew very slowly. In a party that values unity, factionalism increased, centered mostly on Zuma himself. In the August local government elections, the ANC faced its most severe reversal since it came to power in 1994. Accordingly, at the anniversary celebrations the emphasis was on party unity and the acknowledgement (even by Zuma himself) that the party had made mistakes that threatened to isolate it from its core constituencies. Read more »

Affordable Housing Crisis in Johannesburg

by John Campbell
General view of Alexandra township, commonly known as Alex, a slum
overlooking the Sandton skyscrapers in Johannesburg, March 26, 2002.
(Reuters/Juda Ngwenya) General view of Alexandra township, commonly known as Alex, a slum overlooking the Sandton skyscrapers in Johannesburg, March 26, 2002. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya)

In general, the economies of the United States and South Africa are based on the “Washington Consensus” of free markets to encourage economic growth. Both countries are characterized by growing inequality, with South Africa’s GINI coefficient (a measure of inequality) the worst of any large country in the world. Similarly, in some ways, social problems in South Africa resemble those in the United States. However, because South Africa is smaller and poorer than the United States, the issues are clearer. Johannesburg’s affordable housing crisis recalls similar phenomenon in high-cost American cities like New York, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. But in Johannesburg the housing crisis is starker and more visible. Read more »

A ‘White’ Homeland in South Africa

by John Campbell
People attend an Afrikaans Sunday service in a makeshift tent church at a squatter camp for poor white South Africans at Coronation Park in Krugersdorp, March 7, 2010. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly) People attend an Afrikaans Sunday service in a makeshift tent church at a squatter camp for poor white South Africans at Coronation Park in Krugersdorp, March 7, 2010. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)

South Africa is a notoriously divided nation. There are eleven legal languages and four races with degrees of legal recognition (Indian/Asian, Black, Coloured, and White). Though Black Africans are about 80 percent of the population, they are divided into numerous ethnic groups, of which the Zulus are the largest, about a quarter of the population. South Africans sometimes say that there is no “majority” or “minority” in the country, with an overall, encompassing national identity as Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Rainbow Nation. Coloured’s are mostly Afrikaans speaking and Dutch Reformed in religion, but the ‘Cape Coloured’s” are a Muslim minority. Among Whites, the division is between Afrikaans speakers and English speakers, with the former the majority. White Afrikaners sometimes identify themselves as the “white tribe.” The South African constitution recognizes the freedom of legal and cultural self-determination, including the possibility of establishing an ‘ethnic homeland.” Read more »

The ANC’s Next Party Leader and the Next South African Chief of State

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma (2nd L) stands behind a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 17, 2014. (Reuters/Schalk van Zuydam) South African President Jacob Zuma (2nd L) stands behind a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 17, 2014. (Reuters/Schalk van Zuydam)

Under South Africa’s system of proportional representation, the public does not vote directly for the president. Rather it is parliament that votes for the president. Because of the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) huge parliamentary majority, since the end of apartheid, parliament has always selected its party leader as head of state. The ANC will choose its next party leader no later than December 2017. (Incumbent party leader Jacob Zuma has said that he will not run for a third term, as is party tradition.) South Africa’s next national elections will take place in 2019. In theory, Zuma could remain as president of South Africa after he leaves office as party leader. However, precedent is that the president resigns his office when he is no longer party leader. Read more »

South Africa and New Zealand Reciprocally Eliminate Visa Exemption

by John Campbell
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

In October 2016, the New Zealand government withdrew the visa waiver arrangements for South African passport holders. It said the decision resulted from the number of South African visitors who used the visa waiver to visit family and friends in Zealand, rather than traveling to New Zealand for business or tourism. It also said that some South African visitors were overstaying the three month visa waiver limit or did not return to South Africa. The New Zealand government also cited the number of visitors who presented counterfeit South African passports and were denied entry by the New Zealand authorities. Read more »

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 »