John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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South Africa, Refugees, and Populism

by John Campbell
Foreign men from Malawi queue to board buses from a camp for those affected by anti-immigrant violence in Chatsworth north of Durban, April 18, 2015. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Rosettenville, a suburb of Johannesburg, was the site of the February 11-12 burning of buildings alleged to have been used by “prostitutes and drug dealers.” These “prostitutes and drug dealers” have been  popularly identified as “Nigerians.” In the aftermath of the fires, the mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, bitterly criticized the South African government for failing to secure South Africa’s borders. (Mashaba is a prominent leader of the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition to the African National Congress government of Jacob Zuma.) Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: February 11 – February 17

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from February 11 to February 17, 2017. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

What is the African Growth and Opportunity Act?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Representatives from various African nations gather at the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, August 4, 2014. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

This article was originally published on SSA Frontiers

On May 18, 2000, Congress signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act, commonly known as AGOA, into law. AGOA is a trade program meant to establish stronger commercial ties between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. The act establishes a preferential trade agreement between the U.S. and selected countries in the sub-Saharan region. Initially approved for fifteen years, AGOA was reauthorized for ten years on June 25, 2015, by the Obama administration. In its current form AGOA will last until September 30, 2025. Read more »

Parliamentary Brawls Threaten South African Governance

by John Campbell
Security officials remove members of the Economic Freedom Fighters during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA) to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town, South Africa, February 9, 2017. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

Since 1994, South Africa’s constitutional institutions have strengthened, as has the independence of the judiciary, which now regularly rules against an increasingly discredited Zuma administration. The political parties are becoming more competitive, even as the country regularly holds credible elections. Corruption, especially in the inner circle of President Jacob Zuma and among his allies in the African National Congress (ANC), has probably increased, but it is challenged by the country’s free press and vociferous civil society. However, the parliamentary escapades of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) threatens the strength of South Africa’s parliament, one of the country’s most important institutions. Read more »

Podcast: Africa and The New Administration

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama walks off stage as he finishes his news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department in Washington, August 6, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Africa in Transition announces a new podcast series. For our inaugural effort the CFR Africa program’s own John Campbell and Allen Grane discuss the United States’ policy priorities in Africa and what the new Trump administration means for America’s relationship with its African partners. There is also a discussion of the focus of the CFR Africa program. Read more »

Africa’s Presidential Phone Calls

by John Campbell
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) arrives with Steve Mnuchin to swear him in as Treasury Secretary in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 13, 2017. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Africa featured not at all in the U.S. presidential campaign, and the Trump administration has been silent about the continent since the inauguration. Hence, for American friends of Africa it was encouraging that President Trump spoke with the presidents of Africa’s two largest economies on February 13. However, there has been no White House explanation as to why the president chose the chiefs of state of those two particular countries: arguably, the United States has a closer security relationship with Kenya. As of February 14, the White House has released few details about the conversations, while there have been only brief reports from Nigerian and South African sources. This is not unusual: details of communications among heads of state are rarely made public. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: February 4 – February 10

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from February 4 to February 10, 2017. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Goodluck Jonathan on the Nigeria-U.S. Bilateral Relationship

by John Campbell
An art student takes part in a competition by drawing a portrait of President Goodluck Jonathan, during an art exhibition by Malami Leadership Foundation showcasing portraits of Nigeria's former presidents and heads of state in Abuja, Nigeria, May 27, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

In his February 1, address to the U.S. Congress’s House Subcommittee on Africa, former President Goodluck Jonathan argued for Nigeria’s continued importance to U.S. strategic interests in Africa. He recalled the 1961 state visit to Washington by then-Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa, and observed that the close bilateral relationship not only continued but could be enhanced. (Tafawa Balewa was Nigeria’s first, post-independence prime minister. Assassinated in a 1966 military coup, he is today a national hero.) Read more »

Muhammadu Buhari’s Questionable Health

by John Campbell
A man rides his tricycle with placards as he takes part in a rally to show support for Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, Febuary 6, 2017. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On January 19, President Muhammadu Buhari departed Nigeria for London for ten days of vacation and medical tests. Since then, he has extended his stay twice, most recently on February 5. His spokesman did not say when he will return to Nigeria. Before he left, as required by law, President Buhari informed the National Assembly of his departure and that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would exercise presidential power during his absence. Read more »

Jacob Zuma and the State of the South African Nation

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma before speaking to members of the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa, December 4, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

On February 9, President Jacob Zuma will deliver South Africa’s annual State of the Nation speech in parliament. The substance of the speech is likely to be a mixture of policy stability with calls for “radical” transformation of ownership of the economy. Few expect that the speech will really break new ground or that it will presage “radical” change. Rather, his remarks will be shaped by concern for his legacy and the leadership succession fight within the governing African National Congress (ANC). Read more »