South Africa: Power in Action - Rebuilding the Fragile Democratic State

book review

Having only very recently surfaced from the devastating Zuma era of State Capture and politically orchestrated attacks on our key democratic institutions, many South Africans are no doubt wondering whether President Ramaphosa's new administration will be able to reboot Mandela's promise of democracy and freedom. Steven Friedman's Power in Action offers the reader insights into these matters of public concern.

These days it would seem that democracy and its institutions are impotent in the face of the global challenges of growing inequality, rising poverty and the increasingly destructive ravages of neoliberalism, rightwing populism, xenophobia and a whole host of other challenges including those brought on by global climate change.

Yet, seldom do critics take cognisance of the fact that democracy is always, everywhere, a work in progress and vulnerable to reversals and collapse. Democracy never works seamlessly and without friction; it requires constant and ongoing repair work and maintenance. It can also require considerable effort by citizens and civil society to prevent the breakdown of democratic systems. Nowhere has this been more evident than in South Africa over the past decade. These concerns are at the centre of Steven Friedman's new book Power in Action: Democracy, Citizenship and Social Justice...

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