John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

South Africa Prepares for Zuma No Confidence Vote

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Protesters hold placards as they march in South AfricaÕs capital to protest against President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, South Africa, April 12 ,2017. (REUTERS/Marius Bosch)

The National Assembly will vote on April 18, on a motion of no confidence in the African National Congress’ (ANC) Zuma administration. The motion has been put forward by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and is supported by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The occasion of the vote is Zuma’s earlier cabinet reshuffle which is perceived by many as having opened the flood gates to cronyism and corruption. The ANC has 249 seats out of 400 in the National Assembly. The two largest opposition parties are the DA, with eighty-nine seats, and the EFF, with twenty-five. The seats of all the other opposition parties together number thirty-seven. The ANC party leadership seems to have rallied around Zuma, and it must be expected that the motion will fail. Read more »

South African Demonstrations Unlikely to Move the ANC and Zuma

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Demonstrators carry banners as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 7, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the Palm Sunday weekend, there were large demonstrations in South Africa’s urban centers against President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) in the aftermath of last week’s cabinet reshuffle. The largest demonstrations took place in Cape Town and Pretoria, where, according to the media, demonstrators numbered in the tens of thousands. Elsewhere, demonstrations were much smaller. The demonstrations received extensive media coverage internationally and in the United States, however, they will certainly have no impact on Zuma’s position or the ANC in the short term. For his part, Zuma accused the protestors of being racist. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 1- April 7

by John Campbell Monday, April 10, 2017
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 April 1 to April 7, 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 »

The Morning After in South Africa

by John Campbell Friday, April 7, 2017
Demonstrators protest against South African President Jacob Zuma's firing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, outside Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, March 31, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

For now, Jacob Zuma has succeeded in defeating his rivals for the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) and an upcoming parliamentary vote of no-confidence will likely fail. The intra-party show-down has followed on the heels of his dramatic cabinet reshuffle. Zuma carried out this reshuffle without consultation within the ANC or with its partners in government, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Read more »

Britain to out Nigerian Property Owners To Aid Anti-Corruption Crusade

by John Campbell Thursday, April 6, 2017
Police officers stand in front of the Nigerian embassy in London as demonstrators protest against the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria, May 9, 2014. (Reuters/Olivia Harris)

In a boost to President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade, Bolaji Owosanoyu, Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption has announced that the British government will release to the Nigerian government information about Nigerians who own property in the United Kingdom (UK). According to Owosanoyu, “Britain has promised that by 2018, she will provide Nigeria with the information about who owns what and where; that’s very helpful. These include all the houses that have been bought by public officials or accounts that are held by public officials on which they are right now not paying taxes or which they cannot explain the sources.” Read more »

ANC Rallies behind South Africa’s Zuma

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 5, 2017
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma waits to address a rally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa April 16, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Hutchings)

The African National Congress’s (ANC) National Working Committee (NWC) decision to back South African President Jacob Zuma in the face of his widely unpopular cabinet reshuffle makes it unlikely that there will be sufficient ANC defections for a no-confidence measure to pass the National Assembly. It remains to be seen how the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will respond to the NWC decision. At present, it appears that any genuine unity within the ANC over a future sense of direction is absent. Read more »

Uncertainties Mount Whether Zuma’s Presidency Will Survive

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 4, 2017
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the launch of a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, April 1, 2017. (Reuters/Rogan Ward/File photo)

Voices calling for President Jacob Zuma to resign or to be removed from office are getting louder in the wake of his cabinet reshuffle and removal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Within his African National Congress (ANC) the Integrity Commission – intended as an internal corruption watchdog but often toothless – has announced that at an April 9 meeting with the president, it will ask him to resign. Powerful ANC figures including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize have disassociated themselves from the reshuffle, though they have not publicly called for Zuma to go. The Mandela Foundation and the Kathrada Foundation, keepers of the liberation movement flame, have done so, as has former President Kgalema Motlanthe. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: March 25 – March 31

by John Campbell Monday, April 3, 2017
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 March 25 to March 31 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 »

Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet Reshuffle Bad News for South Africa

by John Campbell Friday, March 31, 2017
Demonstrators protest against South African President Jacob Zuma's firing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, outside Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, March 31, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

As part of a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle, President Jacob Zuma has fired highly respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, along with other long-time stalwarts of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Gordhan and Jonas had long opposed pet projects of the president, and Gordhan has become the symbol of reform and good governance even as the reputation of the governing ANC under Zuma’s leadership has declined into a miasma of charges of corruption and “state capture” by the president’s cronies. Many South Africans (including those within the ANC) will see Gordhan’s departure as a major setback for “reform” and the struggle against corruption. International investors already are not happy. The Rand fell dramatically yet again against the U.S. dollar. There is now a greater likelihood that the international credit rating agencies will downgrade South Africa’s sovereign debt to junk status. Read more »

An Independent Judiciary and the Rule of Law in Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, March 30, 2017
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (C) is escorted upon arrival for a special Parliamentary session at Parliament Building in the capital Nairobi, October 6, 2014. (Reuters/PSCU)

Geoff Hill writes in a credible Daily Maverick (South Africa) op-ed that people across Africa want the rule of law, and they are demanding it more and more, often from their local judiciaries. But Africans at the same time remain critical, for good reason, of the behavior of judges. Read more »