14 June 2017

South Africa: Elite Struggle Over Zuma Is Making Weapons Against the Poor

analysis

Anti-corruption politics in South Africa are now decisively focused on Jacob Zuma's removal. It is not our intention to legitimise him. Governing requires a measure of disinterest in oneself and distance in balancing the interests of others. Zuma's indiscretion in giving ample circumstance to claims that he is acutely self-interested and heinously partial means that he is incapable of governing. By RYAN BRUNETTE, PATRONELLA NQABA, JOEL PEARSON AND MOSA PHADI.

Yet, as the historian Livy famously suggested that amid the corruption of the Roman Empire, it may be that we can endure neither our vices nor their remedies.

Sociologist Manuel Castells asserts that "scandal politics is the weapon of choice for struggle and competition" in the information age. It is a weapon that has been used against the progressive values that underpin post-1994 South Africa. It has been a factor in toppling the moderate socialist governments of Gonzalez in Spain and Rousseff in Brazil, among others. It played its part in giving the world extreme cases of regression, such as Brazil's anti-social Temer and India's far-right Hindutva, Narendra Modi.

Anti-corruption politics serve such regressive goals when it personalises systemic corruption. It does so when it constructs the relevant people as...

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