“State of Capture” report highlights South Africa’s kleptocracy fears


s-africa-state-of-captureA damning report into corruption allegations against South African President Jacob Zuma was published Wednesday as demonstrators calling for him to quit marched in the streets of the capital, CNN reports:

The 355-page “State of Capture” report contains allegations, and in some instances evidence, of cronyism, questionable business deals and ministerial appointments, and other possible large-scale corruption at the very top of government. The Public Protector, appointed to investigate complaints of government misconduct, compiled the report.

The report heightens fears that South Africa is “going to become a kleptocracy.”

A statement released Tuesday by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, founded by South Africa’s late president, called for the ANC to “take the steps necessary to ensure that the vehicle of state be protected and placed in safe and capable hands,” saying “political meddling” had weakened critical institutions.

“South African citizens across the land are speaking out and taking action to express their dissatisfaction,” it said. “The Nelson Mandela Foundation supports the demand to hold to account those responsible for compromising our democratic state and looting its resources.”

s-africa-surviveHanging over all this is the virtual dissolution of the ANC leadership and its descent into squabbling factionalism, notes R.W. Johnson, author of How Long Will South Africa Survive? The myths and slogans of the liberation struggle are less and less able to hold the party together, he writes for Standpoint magazine:

Everyone is familiar with the life cycle of African nationalist parties. They enjoy mushrooming growth amid the euphoria of the successful anti-colonial struggle. In office they quickly become corrupt and their incompetence becomes increasingly visible. The party begins to atrophy and depends more and more on its control of patronage and the media. Electorally, it falls back into reliance on the chiefs in the countryside as urban dwellers become increasingly oppositional. Then if (as has so often occurred) a coup takes place the soldiers are welcomed by cheering crowds in the streets and the ruling party simply evaporates like a bad dream. Its life cycle is thus often quite short.

The really important thing, Johnson adds, is that despite ANC threats to make the cities they lost in recent elections “ungovernable” and a series of ANC-led illegal land invasions, the ANC seems habituated to the rules of electoral democracy and this gives one some — not complete, but some — confidence that it may one day accept the loss of national power in good part.

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