South Africa: Riot or Revolution?
Many problems are awaiting Zuma’s second term of presidency this year. The killing of protesting mineworkers in the Rustenburg area in August 2012 has brought to the surface what has been boiling below South Africa’s political landscape for a while: an explosive mix of governmental failures at the municipal level, endemic corruption and nepotism, combined with high unemployment rates and low levels of secondary education. Leading some critical observers to ask where South Africa, once a promising BRICS state, is heading to.
By Kerstin Sandow
While the glorification of the Nelson Mandela past is all-surrounding the criticism against the African National Congress (ANC) party becomes louder. Not only through media outlets but also on South African streets where violent protests take place against corrupt local government and a failing local service-delivery to the poor of this country. According to the SA Reconciliation Barometer, 55% of the population had no or little trust in local government in 2010.
However, the ANC, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma since 2009, remains the leading party at the polls without any serious political contender. The party perceives itself as more than a political association “but as a national liberation movement uniquely qualified to rule and use state power to implement a national democratic revolution” (Rainbow Index 2011/2012). The question is how much longer the party can build on the popular demand for development, change or even revolution, when corruption costs the country around 25 to 30 billion South African Rand annually and a comprehensive judicial investigation of the Presidents involvement in a 1999 arms trading deal is still due.
With an unemployment rate of over 20% and 70% of persons aged 20 and older without secondary education, a ticking time bomb is awaiting the ANC government. International investors and politicians will certainly watch President Zuma’s second 5-year term closely.