South Africa: The Architects of South Africa's July Mayhem Cannot Be Let Off the Hook

Volunteers signed up to help businesses affected by the looting which swept Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (file photo).

The capitals of the world will be looking at how the powers that be deal decisively with a very real threat to the democratic state. Even though we are a mere dot on the global landscape, South Africa is entwined in the international economic and political system.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

South Africa is a tiny speck on the world map. Our politics and economics rarely warrant a mention in the broadsheets of Moscow, Beijing, London or Washington. Except, of course, when there is mayhem.

Then the reporting serves to feed the stereotypes of instability, uncertainty and failure to govern. The events of the past month have been ready fodder. There is a well-founded threat of an insurrection against a democratically elected government. The language of economic sabotage found ready evidence in the mass looting and wanton destruction of both state and private infrastructure. The security agencies of the state, whether police, intelligence or military, proved overwhelmed, incapable, compromised or a combination of all three.

Political leadership by and large exposed itself as inept, invisible, internally conflicted or, again, a combination of all three. No one is prepared to take responsibility for the havoc and...

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