Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
President, Council on Foreign Relations
John Campbell, CFR Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies discusses his new book, Morning in South Africa, which examines post-apartheid South Africa and its promising future, with CFR President Richard N. Haas. Campbell considers the gap between positive legislative, political, and institutional change and tangible improvements in the lives of average South Africans, the differences between South Africa and Zimbabwe, and the persistent issue of crippling income inequality and racial divisions.
The CFR Fellows’ Book Launch series highlights new books by CFR fellows. It includes a discussion with the author, cocktail reception, and book signing.
HAASS: Well, welcome everybody to the Council on Foreign Relations.
And it is evening here in New York, but guess what it is, John? It is morning in South Africa. (Laughter.) I’ve been waiting all day to say that.
But it is morning in South Africa. This is John Campbell. He is the author of this book. He is also the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies here at the Council on Foreign Relations.
It’s not his first book. Several years ago he put out a book about Nigeria called “Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink,” which it continues to do.
CAMPBELL: Yes, it does.
HAASS: And he writes a blog that appears regularly on CFR.org, and also edits the Nigeria security tracker.
John’s a former ambassador, including Nigeria, and he held many jobs at the State Department.
What he and I are going to do is chat for a few minutes, then we are going to open it up to you all to ask the difficult questions. And then afterwards, you have two obligations, responsibilities. One is to eat and drink a little bit and enjoy yourself, but two is to buy a copy of “Morning in South Africa,” because if you don’t he’ll have to change the title and have to add the letter U to the first word. So work with me here, work with me here.
As the title suggests, this book is upbeat. And that, in some ways, is the area of where I think the rubber meets the road or whatever other cliché one wants to turn to.
It’s now just over two decades since the dismantling of apartheid. So before we talk about where we are and where we might be heading and what justified, you know, the optimism of John’s title, let’s talk about the last 22 years.
I mean, we now have the advantage of hindsight.
CAMPBELL: We do.
HAASS: First, if you will, first two post-apartheid decades, closing in on a quarter century. How do you think historians and, more importantly, how do you think of it? What do you think—what should we take as the last two decades if you were going to rate it, if you will? And what did happen as opposed to what could have happened, how things have gone, the trajectory? What’s your take on it all?
CAMPBELL: Legally, constitutionally, institution-building and politically, the past two decades have been remarkably successful.
In terms of addressing poverty, bringing about fundamental social change and the economic development of the roughly half the population that’s mired in poverty, progress has been painfully slow, and indeed even disappointing.
I see certain parallels between what has happened in South Africa and what has happened in my native American South. And that is, it is much easier to address some of the political and legal issues than it is the social and economic consequences of some three centuries of white supremacy.
HAASS: I didn’t know you well two-plus decades ago. I’m curious, have things turned out better, worse or pretty much what you anticipated?
CAMPBELL: Better in that there is a vibrant, dynamic democracy in which human rights are protected to a greater extent probably than anywhere else in the world.
But probably for most South Africans, there has been remarkably little change in the way they actually live. This, by the way, includes the rich as well as the poor.
All institutions in South Africa, from universities to country clubs, are now integrated. Segregation has been dismantled, and yet segregation persists.
Interesting polling data that shows that straight across racial lines most people have relatively little interaction with people of the other races in South Africa. And of those who have the most, they tend to be white people, white people because of their need for service personnel who, of course, are predominantly black or colored. But for most people, change in their personal circumstance has not been particularly dramatic.
HAASS: And for those blacks and others in South Africa who have done well financially, obviously a minority, but who have done well financially, is it different between people of, if you will, a certain class? Has class broken down racial barriers?
CAMPBELL: Many South Africans think and hope that it has, and certainly within the black community there is greater class differentiation now than there was 20 years ago.
There is a small number of black oligarchs who attract a good deal of media attention, very small in number. There is a larger black middle class basically coming out of the public sector, civil servants, employees of state-owned enterprises and so forth.
However, I think it’s sort of important to remember that even under apartheid there was a small, black middle class and there were even a few very rich black South Africans. Still, the black middle class is larger now than it was then and considerably more influential.
HAASS: Why is South Africa, for whatever problems it’s run into, and we’re going to talk about some of those in a minute, why has it done so much better than Zimbabwe?
CAMPBELL: Two, maybe three fundamental reasons. Let’s start with the easiest, the quality of leadership. Just compare Robert Mugabe with Nelson Mandela. And Nelson Mandela was not all by himself. Nelson Mandela was surrounded by a cohort of leaders of extremely high quality, reminiscent perhaps in some ways of the first Washington administration here. Start with that.
Move on to what I think is of central importance, and that is the rule of law and constitutionalism, rule of law deeply ingrained in South Africa. One can argue that the rule of law, to a greater or lesser extent, has existed there since the 17th century albeit applying to only a very small proportion of the population. Still, it did not have to be invented out of whole cloth.
In Zimbabwe, vastly more recent. British administration was established only in the 1890s. There was a very small settler class, maybe 230,000 out of a population of between 6 (million) and 7 million, which behaved in a particularly exploitative way. Further, the settler class was remarkably rigid and unwilling to accommodate.
One of the really central things about South Africa is they’re very good at doing deals. In the aftermath of the Boer War, essentially the Boers and the British did a deal. Essentially, political power went to the Boers, but the British were able to retain a domination of the economy.
At the time of the transition in 1993, ’94, ’94, essentially a deal was done whereby political power moved from the small, white minority to political parties controlled by the black majority, but property remained in white hands.
HAASS: Is that why you haven’t had enormous white flight from South Africa?
CAMPBELL: That’s true. And you haven’t had. Actually, the exact numbers are that there are slightly more white people in South Africa now than there were in 1994.
Another bumper sticker that illustrates the same point, I think, is that the gulf between white wealth, not income, wealth and everybody else in South Africa is greater now than it was in 1994. In other words, whites have gotten richer with the dismantling of apartheid.
HAASS: You’ve spoken to some of the good things, but it’s hard to look at some of Mr. Mbeki’s leadership and most of Mr. Zuma’s and feel good about it. So why has this happened, because it can’t just be because of the characteristic of these individuals? People, yes, people obviously matter, leaders matter, but also the times have to allow or enable it.
So what does that tell us? Why shouldn’t we be more worried than you seem to be or to basically say that the future of South Africa, if it looks more like Zuma than it does like Mandela, it’s not going to be a happy South Africa? So help me understand this.
CAMPBELL: And there are plenty of South Africans who are deeply worried about the trajectory of the Zuma administration.
How can this be? First of all, Zuma, and Mbeki towards the end of his time in office, increasingly surrounded by a smaller and smaller sort of coterie of people. And in the case of Zuma, I would suggest that many of them are at least slightly paranoid.
There was a secretary general of the African National Congress who a couple of months ago accused the American embassy in Pretoria of plotting regime change through the use of exchange programs. It’s a kind of atmosphere of paranoia that, who knows, may remind us of other politicians.
What has happened is that the institutions that are in place have limited what the Zuma administration can actually do. There’s a kind of pattern that we see.
The latest episode, the latest example—the administration has proposed legislation that would limit funding that NGOs can receive from abroad, and also impose on them pretty onerous reporting requirements.
HAASS: Different than NGOs which are not receiving money from abroad?
CAMPBELL: Exactly. Now, the pattern is the legislation is tabled. The opposition parties, who are extremely skilled, they know every parliamentary trick in the book, normally force massive revision of such legislation.
When the revised legislation is finally passed, it’s then challenged in the courts, and the courts either throw it all out or they throw out bits and pieces of it. It’s a fairly regular kind of process. We saw it late last year with the so-called secrecy bill which would have greatly reduced the ability of whistleblowers, for example, to operate in public space.
HAASS: So let’s talk now for a minute about the present and the future. Mr. Zuma has how much longer to lead?
CAMPBELL: Well, that’s a very interesting question. He could be out as early as September if the ANC does badly in the upcoming local elections.
If he is not booted out by the leadership of the party, which is increasingly discontented with him, then he could stay on for another year.
HAASS: OK, either way then, but no longer than a year and a half?
CAMPBELL: No, that’s right.
HAASS: OK. So what is your sense of who or what comes afterwards?
CAMPBELL: The most-discussed successors to Jacob Zuma are Cyril Ramaphosa, a millionaire businessman who helped negotiate the transition to nonracial democracy and who is unfortunately much more popular in London and New York than he is in South Africa.
A second is Madam Zuma, that’s Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, now head of the AU Commission, former minister of health during Mbeki’s more disreputable HIV/AIDS stage, and also as foreign minister a person quite prepared to look the other way with respect to Zimbabwe.
She is the candidate of Jacob Zuma. She is also the candidate of the ANC Women’s League, a very powerful body.
A third candidate is the current speaker of the national assembly, interestingly also a woman, so two of the three most-discussed candidates to be the next president of South Africa are women. That’s relatively unusual in Africa.
My own feeling is that the next leader of the party, the next chief of state will be thrown up by the political system and will probably be a person that most of us don’t talk about very much and don’t know very well.
HAASS: Do you think it may be none of the above?
CAMPBELL: I think it almost certainly will be none of the above.
HAASS: OK, so if I don’t remember the names it’s all right.
CAMPBELL: That’s right.
HAASS: That’s good. (Laughter.) And your sense is that more important that the person is the institutionalization and the political culture. Again, consistent with your upbeat title, your sense is that Zuma is more likely to be, I don’t know if the word is aberration, but something of a Nader rather than necessarily the precedent or the new normal because of, again, culture, political culture, the strength of the rule of law, the strength of the media, and so forth?
CAMPBELL: That’s correct. Let me give you two examples.
South Africa is the only country in Africa that permits gay marriage. South Africa has also abolished capital punishment. In both cases, this was the result of judicial decisions based on human rights provisions of the constitution. Both are extremely unpopular, and they are particularly unpopular amongst the constituents of the ruling party.
And yet, such is the prestige of the constitution and recognition of the importance of the judiciary and the rule of law that there has been no effort, attempt, or even discussion of amending the constitution to restore capital punishment and abolish gay marriage.
HAASS: Let me end, and then we’ll open it up, with a question I maybe should have begun with, which is, give us a sense of why this matters so much. To what extent is what happens in South Africa going to be strongly suggestive or influential over what happens in the rest of Africa? How much is South Africa simply sui generis because of its own special history and also because of its location?
CAMPBELL: It’s influential. What is South Africa? South Africa is an experiment in liberal parliamentary democracy based on the protection of human rights in a country and in a society that was about as fractured as you could get, race, class, language, ethnic group, and yet it’s working. This has an impact.
It’s difficult to establish exact cause and effect, but I know from conversations that I have had that what happened in South Africa has played a role in the more positive trajectory of countries like Nigeria where for the first time the opposition came to power through the ballot box.
HAASS: So this is, if you will, the soft power of the South African example?
CAMPBELL: Yes, reinforced by the power of South African economic penetration of other parts of Africa. Cell phones, for example, in Nigeria are dominated by South African companies.
HAASS: I want to ask one last question. I’ve often thought that the person who doesn’t get enough of the credit for the last 22 years, in particular for the peaceful transition out of apartheid, is F.W. de Klerk.
CAMPBELL: Quite agree.
HAASS: Oh, OK. I thought it was going to be controversial.
CAMPBELL: No, no. (Laughter.) No. And he did win a Nobel Prize.
HAASS: He did. But if you ask everyone, properly speaks about Nelson Mandela. But one of the lessons I took from that and what the Middle East often lacked in the Israeli/Palestinian case was it takes two to tango.
CAMPBELL: It does.
HAASS: And when you had someone like Yitzhak Rabin or whatever, you never had potentially somebody on the other side to be a partner with. It’s a digression.
I’m curious, what is de Klerk—what is today the reputation in South Africa of Mandela and de Klerk?
CAMPBELL: Well, Mandela, Mandela is a sort of George Washington type. De Klerk was present for Mandela’s funeral. And whenever the camera sort of focused on him, there were great big television screens around the stadium, he was always applauded.
CAMPBELL: So he is a person of respect. He’s not very active. He essentially is retired.
Speaking of soft power, there’s some evidence that de Klerk’s participation in an exchange visit to the United States played a key role in breaking him out of the Afrikaner apartheid ghetto, if you like.
HAASS: Interesting. As you can see, you’ve got one of this country’s or the world’s leading experts on Africa. So take advantage of the moment, raise your hand, we’ll get you a microphone. Just let us know who you are, keep it short, and we’ll hear lots from Ambassador Campbell.
Q: My name is Larry Bridwell. Is it working?
HAASS: It is. You have to project.
CAMPBELL: Yeah, we can hear you.
Q: OK. My name is Larry Bridwell and I teach international business at PACE University and I have many students from Africa.
And I just got a term paper from a Nigerian about the exchange rate and the management of the exchange rate in Nigeria. Could you comment on the current president and your projection for the future of Nigeria?
HAASS: Now you’re going to have to sell your old book. (Laughter.) I’m sorry we don’t have that here, too. We could have had a two-for-one sale or something like that. Like Amazon, if you like this book, you’ll like this one.
CAMPBELL: Just very quickly, my view is that President Buhari sees devaluing that naira, which is what the economists all want him to do, as essentially putting an undue burden on the Nigerian poor because so much of what is consumed is imported.
And in fact, I don’t think he has seen convincing arguments to the contrary. The arguments may be there, and Buhari may indeed change his mind at some point in the future, he’s under a lot of pressure to do so.
I would suspect that more likely will be a kind of dual exchange rate system, perhaps not unlike what existed under President Babangida.
HAASS: OK. Yes, ma’am, sure.
Q: Working? Yeah, hi. So you spoke about South Africa’s—
HAASS: You have to introduce yourself.
Q: Oh, Ruti Teitel. I’m a law professor and a member of the Council.
So you spoke about rule of law and South Africa’s leadership role, so I wondered if you could comment on South Africa’s role concerning the International Criminal Court. Obviously, Africa was one of the continents that was most supportive of the ICC. I haven’t yet read your book, but I promise to do that.
I wondered what your take was on South Africa’s recent messaging about the International Criminal Court, its treatment of Bashir, et cetera. So I’m wondering if you could comment on that. Yeah.
CAMPBELL: Absolutely schizoid, absolutely schizoid.
Q: Schizoid, I like that.
HAASS: So for those of us who don’t know, can you give us 30 seconds of the basic facts here?
CAMPBELL: Sure. The International Criminal Court is an institution that was set up—
HAASS: I don’t mean about that. I meant about the South African position.
CAMPBELL: OK, the—
HAASS: You could do the ICC also. (Laughter.)
CAMPBELL: OK, OK.
HAASS: Go ahead.
CAMPBELL: The Treaty of Rome that set up—(laughter) —
HAASS: How about Grotius? Let’s go back to Grotius.
CAMPBELL: The Treaty of Rome that set up the ICC has been incorporated into South African law so that when the Zuma administration failed to arrest Bashir when he was in South Africa and in fact facilitated his departure, it was violating South African law. And there are suits in the South African court system to that effect.
So what you have got is you’ve got the Zuma administration pursuing essentially one policy which is not too different from Kenyatta’s in Kenya. But you’ve got the law and the institutions which are essentially shaping another approach. And we’ll have to see how the various law cases work their way through.
HAASS: OK. Yes, sir, right here at the first table.
Q: Thank you very much. My name is David Fararai (ph) and I’m from the University of South Africa.
I mean, just comparing Zimbabwe and South Africa, don’t you think that one of the reasons why, you know, there’s good governance in South Africa relative to Zimbabwe is also the issue of, you know, rotational democracy as well as active participation of the civil society in the political system?
Because I think for democracy to thrive you also need a very active civil society system to thrive. And in most cases, you and I might know that there’s been arrests when civil society tried to raise the—
CAMPBELL: You’re absolutely right. And further, South African civil society was particularly strong because of its active participation in the anti-apartheid struggle.
So I would argue South African civil society is stronger than civil society in certain other countries that are usually regarded as more mature democracies, such as Spain, for exactly the reasons that you cited.
Further, South African civil society isn’t new. I mean, it is now some generations old, whereas you quite rightly point out that is not the case in Zimbabwe.
Further, South Africa has regular, credible elections. It’s had four thus far, generally judged by outside experts to be equal in quality to those elections that take place in Japan or the United States.
Well, we all know what elections are like in Zimbabwe.
HAASS: Let me just ask you a question before we open it up. There is a whole school of analysis which says you have your prediction. What would you have to see in order for you to get nervous about that your optimism may be misplaced? Would it be, you mentioned, Mrs. Zuma being elected?
HAASS: What would basically shake you? What would be the canary in the coalmine that would really worry you?
CAMPBELL: What would really shake me would be a decision made by the constitutional court, and the last decisions have all been unanimous, decision made by the constitutional court, which is ignored by the administration.
Andrew Jackson, Mr. Madison has made his decision, now let him enforce it, something like that, that would shake me.
HAASS: OK, interesting. Yes, ma’am? Please wait for a microphone. We want to all hear you.
Q: Mary Donovan. I teach world history.
What about the universities in South Africa? Are they now more open to students from the lower classes, the poorer students? Are more students going to the universities? What’s the situation?
CAMPBELL: Dramatically, dramatically better. All of the universities are integrated. The University of Cape Town, Wits, Stellenbosch all have black majorities.
Now, whites are disproportionately represented at all of the high-quality universities and the high-quality secondary schools. But whites are 9 percent of the population and blacks are 80 percent of the population. So that process has gone very far.
What has been a remarkable failure, though, I think, has been primary education, particularly in the townships and in the rural areas. And that that means is that too many black students are not equipped to go into the modern economy.
An example—if you telephone a stockbroker’s office in downtown Johannesburg, the person who will answer the phone will likely be a Zimbabwean. She will be a Zimbabwean because in Zimbabwe primary education did not collapse and it was all done in English.
Well, there are 11 legal languages in South Africa and the South Africans themselves have reached no consensus as to in what language should primary education be conducted.
HAASS: Yes, sir?
Q: Yes, some questions on income inequality.
HAASS: Steven, introduce yourself.
Q: Sure. It’s Steve Tananbaum, GoldenTree Asset Management.
A question about income inequality, and what’s been done for the last three to five years, and why has it been unsuccessful? And what do you think the prospects going forward for income inequality over the intermediate, call it, five to 10-year period is? And is this a big issue the way it is in some of, you know, in, for instance, here where it’s clearly a big issue?
CAMPBELL: Yeah. Yeah. If you take a three- to five-year time frame, I would suggest remarkably little has been done to address questions of economic inequality.
The signature programs are the so-called black economic empowerment programs which I think most observers would say have not been very effective. Essentially they revolve around goals that are largely voluntary and have had the effect of enriching a relatively small number of people who are quite close to the ANC power structure and have had remarkably little impact on the mass of the population in the townships and in the rural areas.
Income distribution is so out of whack that about 17 million South Africans receive some form of—
HAASS: What was the number?
CAMPBELL: Seventeen million out of—
CAMPBELL: —50 million receive some form of assistance. They are mostly children, old people and widows, 17 million.
There are only a little more than 3 million who pay income tax.
Now, a major source of government revenue in South Africa is VAT. So, I mean, poor people pay taxes, too, but they don’t pay income taxes. And yet, that system of allowances, that sort of social safety net only takes up between 3 and 4 percent of national income.
So from my perspective, this is clearly a sort of ticking time bomb.
HAASS: The young man next to you, Steve, right there with the striped shirt.
Q: Hello, my name is Nelson E. Goodman (ph). I’ve worked with tech and social enterprises in the U.S. and in developing/emerging markets.
So you made a point earlier about white migration to South Africa, how it’s increased actually since the end of apartheid, and that made me think about white political participation. Do you see an increase in rates of voting or, you know, engagement in civil society or broader political participation among these whites that have returned? I’d like you to go a little bit more into that, please.
HAASS: Was it migration or just natural population increase?
CAMPBELL: There is some white migration into South Africa, but the percentage of the population that is white is lower now than it was in 1994. In absolute numbers it’s higher—
CAMPBELL: —but not by very much.
Political participation in South Africa continues to largely be racially defined. In other words, whites tend to support and participate in the Democratic Alliance; blacks meet in the ANC. An interesting thing will be to watch what happens with the Democratic Alliance and whether it can break out of the essentially white and colored straitjacket, electoral straitjacket that it’s in.
That’s what we’re all going to be watching in terms of the local government elections that are coming up in August, because unless it can broaden its appeal to the majority population, it in effect can never be the party of government.
HAASS: Yes, ma’am?
Q: Thank you. Jean Herskovits, State University of New York.
John, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the relationship between South Africa and its immediate neighbors now and evolving in SADC and, beyond that, greater Africa, because you mentioned the Zimbabwean answering the phone, there are a lot of non-South African Africans coming into South Africa, which creates a political challenge there, as in many other places. So I’d like to hear your thoughts about that.
CAMPBELL: Perhaps best to approach it from a number of different levels. Rather like here, South Africans tend to think there are many more immigrants in the country than there really are.
The percentage of the population in South Africa that consists of either or combined legal immigrants and illegal immigrants is about the same as the percentage here, it’s around 11 percent. But South Africans think it’s much higher than that, and they will often talk about this wave of people that have come across the Zambezi River.
So I think we have a perceptions issue here, part of it is particularly Nigerian and Congolese millionaires like to go to South Africa, they build great, big, splashy houses and they’re very visible, and that, I think, adds to the mix.
In terms of a more formal relationship between South Africa and its neighbors, under Zuma I would say there’s been a kind of recessional. South Africa is not nearly as active as it was under Mbeki on African issues, notwithstanding the fact that South Africa campaigned very hard to get Madam Zuma as the leader of the African Union.
My own feeling is that unless or until there’s some sort of resolution of the situation in Zimbabwe, SADC—Southern African Development Corporation—will largely remain a dead letter.
HAASS: With the red jacket?
Q: Hi. I’m Corsi (ph). I’m South African and I work for a bank.
Of course South Africa has its issues, as do many other countries. From your perspective—or at least I’d rather try to focus on the more progressive aspect. So if we look at the fact that we have one of the strongest constitutions—
Q: —one of the most sophisticated financial systems—
Q: —what would it take for South Africa to get to the next level?
CAMPBELL: I think the short answer to that is jobs and jobs particularly for the unskilled. If you can bring the unemployment rate down from 50 percent in some of the townships, you are going to greatly bring down the levels of poverty and you’re going to increase the amount of consumption that that becomes possible.
HAASS: Can I just interrupt? I don’t understand. When you say jobs for the unskilled, do you mean jobs that match a lack of skill?
HAASS: Or do you mean bringing the unskilled up so they can take more sophisticated jobs?
CAMPBELL: Well, you do both, of course, but the latter takes much longer, whereas you could, through changes in labor policy, you could bring in or you could create unskilled jobs fairly quickly.
HAASS: Like infrastructure or something?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, sure.
HAASS: Anything else that you—I mean, the question about what would it take for South Africa, say, to increase per capita GDP significantly or whatever. What else would you recommend if they hire you as the adviser?
CAMPBELL: If they hire me as the adviser, the first thing I would try to do is a campaign to get South Africans to invest the capital that they’ve got stuffed under their mattress in their own economy. I mean, South Africa right now is great on exporting capital to other parts of Africa as opposed to investing it at home.
If you can invest that capital at home and if you can create lots and lots of unskilled jobs, bring the unemployment rate down, you then, I think, see the country moving economically to a higher level.
HAASS: Yes, ma’am?
Q: My name is Bhakti Mirchandani. I work for a hedge fund, and I’m a term member. Thank you for your comments.
We’ve spoken in this discussion about widening the wealth gap between blacks and whites, increasing integration of universities. But one substantial issue, from my perspective, in South Africa is the abysmal graduation rates, the very high dropout rates out of higher education and also the relative unaffordability, even for students getting scholarships relative to the average income. What’s your take on solving that?
CAMPBELL: All of that’s true. All of that’s absolutely true. I tend to think that for a country at the particular stage of development that South Africa is at that you need to start with primary education as opposed to starting it at the university level.
There’s an irony here. Some of South Africa’s universities, Wits, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Durban, are some of the best in the world. And yet, there are other universities, in many cases founded under apartheid and intended essentially for black students and grotesquely underfunded, which are much more similar to universities you find in other parts of Africa.
OK, big problem. To raise those up is going to require a lot of resources. Same is true with doing something about primary education. Right now, I think it would be better to spend the money on primary education.
HAASS: Mr. Shriver?
Q: I’m Donald Shriver from Union Theological Seminary.
I’m a graduate, so to speak, of the divestment movement of the 1980s, and I would prefer investment rather than divestment. I’m wondering, especially for those of us who have a sizable part of our own retirement income from corporate profits and so forth, what areas of investment do you think would be most beneficial to contemporary South Africans? I ask it partly so that if we have any vote in a stock meeting and so forth we at least need the courage, invest in projects that will do some good, especially for that employment challenge in South Africa.
CAMPBELL: Anything that generates jobs for unskilled people. Let me give you a specific example—call centers. Now, we all know that there are call centers in India, it’s a huge industry. And the industry is so highly developed that in fact those that answer the phone are even taught to speak with American accents. Well, why not a call center in Soweto? You know, I mean, we’re not talking about something that should be that difficult to do. And yet, so far as I am aware, there are no call centers in South Africa.
HAASS: Interesting. OK, one last question. Sir?
Q: Tom Walsh with UPF, an interfaith organization, and I participate in the CFR’s Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop.
But I’d like to ask you to comment on the religious landscape and maybe draw an analogy or comparison with Nigeria where there’s been very serious problems, Christianity and Islam. Has in general religion, faith-based organizations, et cetera, been a significant plus factor? And to what extent is that a strong factor in the South African exceptionalism, let’s say, within Africa?
CAMPBELL: It’s enormously important. Albertina Sisulu, a major figure in the liberation movement, she was told one time that Afrikaners were really quite frightened about what the future would look like. And she responded, well, what are they afraid of? We’re all Christians.
In other words, the settlement in 1994 didn’t just drop out of the sky. And the churches played an enormously important role in preparing the way forward. I would argue they were far more important than the South African communist party or the whole Marxist/Leninist way of thinking.
But your question goes further. By the way, there is a small Islamic minority in South Africa, relations are fine, it’s not an issue.
Your question goes further, though, because there has been an explosive growth of Pentecostalism in South Africa that would appear to be changing the way people relate to the political process, changing it for the better. It’s interesting that Jacob Zuma no less and the leader of the Democratic Alliance are both Pentecostal preachers.
HAASS: We’ve come to the appointed hour. I want to thank John. And again, he really is one of the true experts, a real voice of knowledge and reason when it comes to all things African.
It’s interesting that his two books, first on Nigeria and now South Africa, cover what many of us think are the two most influential and important countries south of the Sahara.
The book is called “Morning in South Africa.” It’s less than 200 pages, so you can read it in a morning anywhere. (Laughter.) And you can buy it in a minute here, so I urge you to do it.
There’s food and drink here, lots of opportunities to ask John all the questions that we didn’t have time for.
And, Mr. Ambassador, thank you and congratulations.
CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. (Applause.)