John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Thabo Mbeki"

Morning in South Africa

by John Campbell
From the cover of Morning in South Africa, a book written by John Campbell.

My new book on South Africa is now available in hardcover and Kindle. The book’s core argument is that despite the corruption and incompetency of the Zuma administration combined with slow economic growth, the country’s democratic institutions are strong enough to weather the current period of poor governance. Read more »

South Africa Moves Against Secretly-Owned Companies

by John Campbell
Demonstrators carry placards as they march to protest against corruption in Cape Town, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The Tax Justice Network-Africa has issued a press release praising the South African government’s commitment to register and make public the “beneficial owners” of all companies incorporated in the country. “Beneficial owners” are those who ultimately benefit from a company. In many countries, governments do not require such information, resulting in anonymously owned companies that may be used by corrupt politicians or others who want to hide their identity. The “Panama Papers” highlight the role such companies play in activities ranging from money laundering to tax evasion. Read more »

South African President Zuma’s Legal Problems Unlikely to Drive Him From Office

by John Campbell
Protesters call for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma as the country commemorates the anniversary the country's first democratic elections in Cape Town, April 27, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

South Africa’s High Court has ruled against the president yet again. It has determined that the prosecutor’s decision to drop 783 charges of corruption against Zuma should be reviewed. According to the BBC, Judge Aubrey Ledwaba characterized the 2009 decision to drop the charges as “irrational.” The ruling allows the National Prosecuting Authority to reinstate the charges, though it is unclear whether it will do so. Nevertheless, once again, South Africa’s judiciary has demonstrated its independence from the executive. Read more »

One More Sign that South Africa’s Zuma is in Trouble with his Party

by John Campbell
South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma stand during the playing of the national anthem at the opening of Parliament in Cape Town, February 11, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

In the aftermath of the Constitutional Court’s unanimous ruling that President Zuma and the National Assembly failed to uphold the Constitution over Nkandla, there are signs that the grassroots of the governing African National Congress (ANC) is losing patience. (Nkandla is Zuma’s private estate on which the public protector ruled public money was improperly spent; the presidency and the National Assembly stonewalled the public protector, actions which the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously violated the Constitution.) The ANC used its huge parliamentary majority to block an April 5 effort to impeach Zuma, but prominent ANC leaders are saying that Zuma must go. Read more »

Star Economist Says Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa Has Failed

by John Campbell
France's Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin (L), Finance Minister Thierry Breton (2nd L), Education Minister Gilles de Robien (2nd R) and Thomas Piketty, director of the Paris School of Economics (PSE), attend the inauguration of the school in Paris, February 22, 2007. (Reuters/Benoit Tessier)

On October 3, Thomas Piketty, the French economist and best-selling author of Capital in the 21st Century, said in his prestigious Nelson Mandela lecture that South Africa’s “…black economic empowerment strategies… were not successful in spreading the wealth.” He said that 60 to 65 percent of the country’s wealth is held by 10 percent of the population, compared with 50 to 55 percent in Brazil and 40 to 45 percent in the United States. He made the point that out of the wealthiest 5 percent of South Africans  up to 80 percent are white. 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 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 »

President Zuma Unlikely to Exit Early

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma greets supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party during their final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

When Jacob Zuma succeeded Thabo Mbeki as African National Congress (ANC) party leader and eventually became the South African chief of state, his flaws were already well known: personal financial issues, a rape trial (he was acquitted), and corruption scandals. The ANC was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Read more »

HIV/AIDS, South Africa, and the United States

by John Campbell
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after attending a PEPFAR (U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Transition Signing, at Delft South Clinic in Delft South, a suburb of Cape Town, August 8, 2012. (Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Courtesy Reuters)

In the aftermath of the miracle of a democratic transition from apartheid to “non-racial” democracy, South Africa faced a disease nightmare. During the presidencies of Nelson Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki, up to a third of some population groups in South Africa were victims of HIV/AIDS. Deaths soared, and the national life expectancy dropped by a decade. Read more »

Former President Mbeki Claims Former Prime Minister Blair Pressured Him to Invade Zimbabwe

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki (L) stands with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe at Harare International Airport January 17, 2008. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

In a recent al-Jazeera broadcast, former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki claimed that then United Kingdom prime minister Tony Blair pressured him to cooperate on joint British–South African military action to depose Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe. Read more »