James Hamill

James Hamill has been a lecturer in the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Leicester, U.K., since 1991. He has a long-standing research interest in South African politics, particularly in the country’s post-apartheid development, and is a frequent visitor to the country. He has published articles on South Africa in International Relations, Diplomacy & Statecraft, the World Today, Politikon: The South African Journal of Political Studies, and the Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs.

Articles written by James Hamill

South Africa’s Zuma, ANC Must Deliver on ‘Transformation'

By James Hamill
, , Briefing

In his inaugural address, South African President Jacob Zuma identified “rapid economic transformation” and “inclusive growth” as the policy centerpieces of his second term in office. This emphasis on transformation reflects an underlying unease within the ruling ANC and represents a tacit recognition that Zuma’s first term was largely squandered due to scandals, managerial incompetence and party strife. more

Electoral Success Obscures Long-Term Dangers to South Africa’s ANC

By James Hamill
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Given the commanding victory of South Africa’s long-dominant African National Congress in the May 7 elections, it is tempting to conclude that in South Africa the more things change, the more they stay the same. But the outcome of national and provincial polls reveals more subtle shifts and trends that cast the election in a different light and raise important questions about the ANC’s future as a dominant party. more

Military Decline Calls South Africa's Regional Leadership into Question

By James Hamill
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Even under Jacob Zuma’s tumultuous presidency, South Africa has been viewed as the African continent’s natural leader, its principal conflict manager and its chief interlocutor with major external powers and international organizations. But a defense review has highlighted a major gap between the country’s ambitions and its resources, calling into question the conventional wisdom about South African leadership.

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Kagame’s Rwanda Presents South Africa With Delicate Balancing Act

By James Hamill
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Relations between South Africa and Rwanda have suffered a sharp downturn with the murder and attempted murder in South Africa of two former high-level Rwandan security officers who had fled Rwanda for South Africa. While the Rwandan regime formally denied responsibility, the attacks have poisoned bilateral relations, which had been close until South Africa began providing safe haven for Rwandan exiles. more

South Africa’s 2014 Election Could Be Next Step in ANC’s Steady Decline

By James Hamill
, , Briefing

In theory, South Africa’s elections this year should give the opposition its best opportunity to date to erode support for the African National Congress and realign South African politics. But while the ANC has had a difficult period in government, beset by leadership problems, internecine strife, corruption scandals, confusion over economic policy and protests, it remains a formidable political machine. more

A Compromised Hegemon, South Africa Must Rethink Its African Peace Operations

By James Hamill
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This year has been one of fluctuating fortunes for South Africa as it seeks to shape Africa’s emerging security architecture and to cement its position as the leading player in continental peace operations. Although the case for South African leadership is a compelling one, those leadership aspirations do not necessarily play well domestically, nor are they always well-received in the wider continent. more

In Zimbabwe, Opposition MDC’s Problems Run Deeper Than Leadership

By James Hamill
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Following its “defeat” in July 2013 elections at the hands of ZANU-PF, the fortunes of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have reached their lowest point in the party’s 14-year existence. Crucially, this time the MDC also lacks the confidence, energy and unity that previously sustained it, leaving the party deeply aggrieved but isolated and with no easy options or obvious ways forward. more

U.S.-South Africa Relations in the Obama-Zuma Era: Part II

By James Hamill
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U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to South Africa was positive in tone and strong in symbolism, but there was a tangible sense that both sides were going through the motions. If the trip was subdued in terms of policy outcomes, it is in part because the U.S.-South Africa political relationship is actually quite fractious, and even the trappings of summitry could not conceal a range of differences. more

U.S.-South Africa Relations in the Obama-Zuma Era: Part I

By James Hamill
, , Briefing

Although it was overshadowed by the serious decline in Nelson Mandela’s health, U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa in June provided the opportunity for a comprehensive re-evaluation of the bilateral relationship. Though both sides talked about expanding cooperation and strengthening ties, the backdrop to the visit was an uneven relationship since the birth of the new South Africa in 1994. more

Democracy or Solidarity: South Africa’s Zimbabwe Dilemma

By James Hamill
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Zimbabwe’s ongoing political and economic decline has severely tested South Africa’s ability to balance its often-contradictory foreign policy imperatives of commitment to democracy and human rights on the one hand and African liberation solidarity, tinged with anti-Western sentiment, on the other. With Zimbabwe on the cusp of fresh elections, this issue is set to return to the top of the South African agenda. more

African Union’s Complicated Record Belies Continent-Spanning Narratives

By James Hamill
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The African Union was formed against an inauspicious backdrop of conflict, state collapse, failed peacekeeping missions and even genocide. Just over a decade later, the AU can claim some modest successes, as democratic government, however imperfect, has been accepted as the norm and military rule as an aberration. But how the AU addresses democratization in the future will shape the organization’s prospects. more

Mangaung Conference Puts South Africa's Zuma, ANC Back on Track

By James Hamill
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In three key areas, the national conference of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, held in December, pointed toward a more purposeful movement, one in theory better equipped to address the country’s challenges and end the era of drift and paralysis caused by the ANC’s apparently endless internecine strife. But conference resolutions are not the same as policy implementation. more

South Africa After the ANC: Part II

By James Hamill
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The African National Congress is trapped in a systemic crisis from which it cannot extricate itself. Consequently, the wellbeing of South African democracy requires a shift from the current one-party dominant system to a more competitive multiparty system. Progress to a more pluralist order may be accelerated by the ability of the Democratic Alliance to position itself as a credible alternative governing party. more

South Africa After the ANC: Part I

By James Hamill
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South Africa's ruling African National Congress party is beset by problems it is incapable of seriously addressing, far less resolving. The main question now is whether it will experience a dignified “democratic decline” or a descent into Zanufication, whereby, like Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF, the liberation movement asserts its right to rule on the basis of history rather than the will of the people. more

South Africa's Zuma Faces Uncertain Future: Part II

By James Hamill
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In a movement whose divisions have been laid bare in recent years, the African National Congress' positions on certain policy issues are interpreted as indicators of the strength of particular leaders and factions. In this light,  South African President Jacob Zuma left the ANC's recent policymaking conference having failed in three main areas, potentially damaging his re-election prospects in the process. more

South Africa's Zuma Faces Uncertain Future: Part I

By James Hamill
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The defining moment in South African politics this year will be the national conference of the ruling African National Congress in Mangaung in December. The conference will chart the ANC’s direction and elect the leadership to guide both the party and, given its dominance, the country over the next five years. As such, Mangaung will determine the future of current South African President Jacob Zuma. more

South Africa's Regional Cooperation Dilemma

By James Hamill
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In Southern Africa the process of regional cooperation has been viewed skeptically, mainly because the obvious disparities of power between South Africa and its neighbors raise the question of whether a more balanced and equitable set of regional relationships can be achieved. Though this is certainly a valid concern, it ignores any appreciation of the potential costs to Pretoria from closer regional cooperation. more

South Africa's Deepening Corruption Crisis

By James Hamill
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Extended periods of one-party dominance can prove detrimental to the health of democratic government in various ways. Corruption, in particular, is a feature of dominant-party systems and one of the means by which those systems can pose a threat to transparent and efficient government. After 18 years in power, South Africa’s African National Congress is largely serving to confirm this familiar trend. more