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Cry The Beloved Country

South Africa’s political façade has begun to crack. Fissures within the ruling African National Congress party became more pronounced Tuesday, as violent demonstrations erupted in Johannesburg to protest a disciplinary hearing for Julius Malema. From Reuters:

South Africa’s ruling ANC will hold the second day of a disciplinary hearing of youth leader Julius Malema at its headquarters in Johannesburg despite violent protests on Tuesday, a party spokesman said on Wednesday.

The African National Congress said late on Tuesday it would move the hearing to a secret location outside Johannesburg after thousands of Malema supporters hurled rocks and beer bottles at police and journalists and burned ANC flags.

The hearing is a high-stakes gamble for both President Jacob Zuma and Malema, who has called for the nationalisation of mines. The firebrand youth leader, seen as a potential future leader, faces possible suspension from the party. But if he is exonerated, Zuma could be fighting for political survival.

The longstanding strategy of the ANC appears to have failed. Reaching out to white voters and embracing globalization were intended to make South Africa prosperous enough to support higher living standards for the black majority, fast. It hasn’t worked. In the face of economic stagnation, the consensus surrounding this policy is beginning to unravel — the ANC does not have a strategy for raising the standard of living of an increasingly impatient majority.

The global economic slowdown makes life even more difficult for South African officials, and the impatience of the black majority with the slow pace of economic change could pose the gravest threat yet to the South African miracle.

Stay tuned.

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  • Richard F. Miller

    The rot underneath South Africa’s media-burnished surfaces has been advancing for some time.

    The chief evidence here is the crime rate–while there has been a decrease in some violent crime (from extraordinarily high levels to simply very high levels) other forms of crime continue to skyrocket. South Africa is now the world’s rape capital, (sadly, including that of children.)

    Carjackings and violence against farmers, mostly white, also continue to increase.

    Unfortunately, to sustain genuine rule-of-law democracy requires much more than a once-in-a-lifetime event like the appearance of the extraordinary Nelson Mandela, and certainly far more than Western hopes and pieties.

    In all likelihood, in 20 years’ time, the country will look and be governed like a Zimbabwe.

  • Mrs. Davis

    What happens when the price of gold crashes?

  • Kenny

    From the Stone Age to the modern age in one generation. Right-o.

  • Joe

    Professor, what “South African miracle”? Unless you set the bar at genocide, the post-apartheid era has been a violent disaster. Is there a similar ethnic group in the world as well educated as the Afrikaaners with similar job prospects? Outside of the lucky few who make it to Oz or Canada, most are forced to live in virtual prisons in Joberg or leave and manage a Denny’s in Dubai. De Klerc may have done the right, but he did it wrongly & left the Afrikaaners with no state or means of egress. Miracle, my buttons

  • nb

    “Reaching out to white voters and embracing globalization” may not be the best description of what the ANC has been up to. You have a a small black power class that long ago figured out the easiest way to get rich by shaking down the white corporate elite, all behibd a necessary facade of leftist sloganeering. An uncompetitive but oligopolistic white big business sector that rakes in high rents behind various ANC-supported barriers to entry. There is a dualistic insider-outsider labor market with an ANC/communist party run Big Union movement which channels a share of the corporate rents to a narrow black labor aristocracy, while the vast majority of the black population languish in poverty, 30% unemployment and general conditions that are not all that much better than under apartheid.

  • Tom T.

    I initially read this post as referring to the “nationalisation of mimes.” I was surprised that the protest was not silent.

  • Luke Lea

    Are whites staying or leaving? That is the question.

  • M. Simon


    Mandela was a Communist. The ANC is communist.

    Experience is a harsh teacher, but some will have no other.

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