10 August 2017

South Africa: Analysis - Political Déjà Vu - Lessons From a Time of Ordinary Problems


One of the reasons that this political era is generally named after President Jacob Zuma is that it appears everything is tied up with him in some way or another. The rise of corruption, goes the belief, is about Zuma because he came into power already corrupt, and then that contagion spread through government. In many ways he is seen as the root cause of our situation and our problems. But, there is strong evidence to suggest that he has succeeded not just because of his political strength, but also because the very structure of our society has allowed him to. Events that occurred a full decade ago are a good illustration of this. By STEPHEN GROOTES.

In August 2007 South Africa was in a tense political situation. Two big factions of the ANC were going to war in December. There were growing cries about corruption. There were huge concerns about the abuse of power. And the then President Thabo Mbeki was an increasingly controversial figure. He was accused of neglecting the most vulnerable people in society because of his own strange beliefs. In middle-class urban areas, some people almost began to hate him. One or two people in his...

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