South Africa

  • In South Africa, Illicit Cigarettes are a Smoking Gun on Corruption

    In South Africa, cigarettes are ubiquitous on the black or gray market. They are mostly sold loose or in packs at roadside kiosks and small informal shops known as spazas. This illicit market accounts for a large portion of the total market for cigarettes, and as a result major multinational companies have launched massive and expensive campaigns to shape the state’s response to this problem. Yet boththe smaller companies accused of smuggling cigarettes and the multinationals that rail against the practice have been implicated in, at least, serious impropriety and, in the worst cases, corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion. All of this has been vividly documented in long-running media exposés — but until now these exposés haven’t led to arrests or prosecutions.
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  • The Illicit Tobacco Trade in Zimbabwe and South Africa

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    This groundbreaking study of the illicit tobacco trade in southern Africa explores how this trade supports organized crime, helps enable official corruption, and erodes state structures. A major feature of South Africa’s, and to a lesser extent Zimbabwe’s, political economy revolves around conflict—overt and covert, violent and non-violent—over who makes the most money from the illicit tobacco trade, who controls that trade, and how the state responds to it. This conflict now takes places in the midst of huge political transitions within the ruling parties of both countries.

    The study maps the key dimensions of the illicit cigarette trade in Zimbabwe and South Africa, including the key actors, the pathways of trade and the accompanying ‘modalities’ of criminality, as well as other important dimensions of the illicit cigarette market in southern Africa. It identifies “good-faith actors,” primarily in South Africa, whose positions could be strengthened by policy and technical interventions, explores opportunities for such intervention, and assesses the practical solutions that can be applied to combat illicit trade and tax evasion in the tobacco industry.




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  • Pham Quoted in the Washington Diplomat on the Recent Reforms Throughout Africa


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  • Reflecting on Mandela’s Centenary

    In the predawn hours of July 18, 1918, not far from the medieval cathedral town of Soissons in northeastern France, twenty-four French divisions, including two segregated American infantry divisions (the storied 92nd “Buffalo Soldiers” and the 93rd) under French command, supported by other Allied units—including eight other US divisions of the American Expeditionary Force led by Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing for whom the day would bring one of their first combat operations—crossed the Marne River, launching the massive counterattack that, one hundred days and just over 271,000 casualties later, would lead to the armistice ending the “Great War,” the most brutal conflict known to humankind up to that point.

    That very same day, some 9,000 kilometers to the south, in the small village of Umtata, in the remote eastern part of the Cape Province of what was then the Union of South Africa, a baby boy was born among the local Thembu people. The child was given the name Rolihlahla, which in the Xhosa colloquial meant “troublemaker”; in later years, the man would be affectionally known by his clan name, Madiba (it was only when he was seven and sent to a nearby Methodist mission school that his teachers would have him christened with the English name of “Nelson” and register the name of his grandfather as his surname). Who would have predicted that the child would not just survive, but, overcoming his rather modest beginnings (his father died when he was not even ten years old, leaving behind four wives, four sons, and nine daughters) as well as the many vicissitudes of his long life, cause a great deal of “trouble” for some of the great and powerful of this world—all without recourse to arms?

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  • Lilley Joins BBC to Discuss Ethiopia and Eritrea


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  • South African Trade Minister Advocates for Africa’s Greater Role in the Global Economy

    On Friday, July 13, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a conversation with Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of South Africa the Hon. Rob Davies.

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  • Reserve Bank Governor Discusses South Africa’s Economic Resilience

    On Wednesday, April 18, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, in partnership with the Global Business & Economics Program, hosted a discussion with Mr. Lesetja Kganyago, governor of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

    Dr. J. Peter Pham, Atlantic Council vice president and Africa Center director, and Mr. Bart Oosterveld, C. Boyden Grey fellow on global finance and growth and Global Business & Economics Program director, welcomed participants. Mr. Brian C. McK. Henderson, Atlantic Council treasurer, introduced Kganyago, with whom he had worked earlier in the central banker’s career.

    In his remarks, Kganyago addressed the issue of South Africa’s fiscal resilience, and how the country is positioned to deal with shocks from the global economy. He laid out how strong fiscal institutions and a healthy regulatory regime allowed South Africa to weather the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession while many countries fared poorly. As the global economy has recovered, so too has South Africa, rebuilding its economic buffers, reining in inflation, and reducing its debt to GDP ratio.

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  • Hruby Joins War On The Rocks to Discuss Zuma Resignation


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  • Bruton Joins CBC News Network to Discuss South Africa's Situation


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  • Pham Joins VOA to Discuss South Sudan, Kenya, DRC, and South Africa


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