R. W. Johnson is a British-South African journalist and historian. Born in England, he was educated at Natal University and Oxford University, as a Rhodes Scholar. He was a fellow in politics at Magdalen College, Oxford, for twenty-six years; he remains an emeritus fellow. He was formerly Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation in Johannesburg.
He is currently a South Africa correspondent for the London Sunday Times and also writes for the London Review of Books His articles for the LRB generally cover South African and, to a lesser extent, Zimbabwean affairs.
In South Africa's Brave New World: The Beloved Country Since the End of Apartheid Johnson is critical of the African National Congress and their rule in post-apartheid South Africa. He accuses the ANC of mismanagement of the country, citing as evidence the decline in life expectancy in both South Africa and neighbouring Zimbabwe since 1990, ANC rule having formally begun in 1994. The book describes the ANC leadership as being "influenced by a 1960s ideological cocktail of Marxism and black nationalism, and striving to create a black bourgeoisie that can lead South Africa through a “national democratic revolution”'. The South African president Thabo Mbeki is criticized for the ineffectiveness of his response to AIDS and his support for the theory that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, as well as for his support for Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. The book attracted both positive and negative reviews. David Beresford, The Guardian's Johannesburg correspondent, saw the book "as a record of pretty well every piece of unsubstantiated gossip to have circulated South Africa's rumour mills".