In Zimbabwe, Signs Are Not Pointing to Investor Confidence (Bulawayo 24 News – August 15)

"Many people talk about the plundering and the looting, human rights abuses that took place under Mugabe's rule. He was not alone in that. While the regime talks about Zimbabwe being open for business, this is the same group of people that systematically destroyed Zimbabwe's economy over nearly 40 years," said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the nonprofit group Vanguard Africa.

Cameroon’s Crisis Deepens (Mail and Guardian – August 10)

According to Jeffrey Smith, head of Vanguard Africa, an advocacy group: “Since August 2016 especially, the acts of violence [by the armed groups] have become more routine and more brazen…at this point, it almost seems as if armed groups and government forces are actively bidding to outdo one another in terms of shock value.”

Opposition Leader Tendai Biti Asylum Case Tests Zimbabwe-Zambia Relations (Voice of America – August 8)

Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, says he has been putting pressure on U.S. authorities to address the issue. "What we are trying to do is raise the necessary international alarm bells, to keep attention focused on his case, as it's not isolated. It is part of a wider crackdown on dissenting voices, on political opposition, and certainly on civil society with reports we have seen coming in of people going into hiding."

Mnangagwa’s Victory May Not Be Sweet Following Contested Polls, Killing of Civilians (Voice of America – August 3)

Executive Director, Jeffrey Smith of Vanguard Africa concurs. “If you go through the litany of concerns both in the lead up to the elections, during the elections and after the election, namely the brutality, the violence that we witnessed yesterday, indicates that the vote was deeply flawed and does not reflect the true will of Zimbabweans.”

Meet the Olivia Pope of Kenya ( - August 1)

PR is invaluable for changing the African narrative, according to Christopher Harvin, partner at PR firm Sanitas International and co-founder of Vanguard Africa, a pro-democracy nonprofit. “It’s critical,” he says, “to navigate the next steps of economic and social development as the continent strives to elevate its global standing, shape its brand and offset its critics.”

Ugandans Protest after President Imposes Social Media Tax (Washington Times – July 17)

Hilary Matfess, who has written on the radical Islamist movement Boko Haram, and Jeffrey Smith, head of the pro-democracy group Vanguard Africa, say African nations such as Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Zimbabwe are following in familiar footsteps in their bids to curb critical debate on the internet.

“Tanzania and Uganda are the latest nations to fall victim to a wave of internet censorship that has been inspired and exported by autocratic powers such as China and Russia, as well as totalitarian regimes like North Korea …,” they wrote recently on “Across sub-Saharan Africa, free expression is being unjustly curtailed, and the internet is increasingly being used by authorities to censor and surveil citizens.”

Autocratic Togo is out of Step with West Africa. Will It's Neighbors Take Action? (World Politics Review – July 12)

“Togo is such an outlier, and it really casts a negative light on a region that has quite a bit to highlight and to tout internationally,” says Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, a Washington-based nonprofit group that supports free and fair elections and pro-reform leaders. “It’s a tragic situation for Togo and for the region, which should be recognized for its tremendous democratic advancements.”

‘It’s just barbarity.’ Togo’s Political Prisoners Describe Torture in Police Custody (Los Angeles Times – June 3)

“It’s a military regime with a civilian figurehead at the top effectively doing their business for them,” said Jeffrey Smith, the founder of Vanguard Africa, a Washington nonprofit that works with Togolese pro-democracy activists. Gnassingbe “is putting a patina of legitimacy on an otherwise illegitimate military regime,” he said.