South Africa heading for crisis, collapse and ‘regime change’?


Amid heckling from the opposition, the South African president used his State of the Nation speech to try and redeem himself following a spending scandal. But calls for him to step down are growing, reports suggest.

Why now? Will he really #PayBackTheMoney? How much of it will he pay back? These are some of the questions on the lips of many South Africans, one analyst contends:

These questions come after president Jacob Zuma’s surprise announcement that he would pay back part of the 246 million rand ($15.2 million) of public money that was improperly spent on his private homestead at Nkandla.

Zuma’s about-turn came three days before the deadline set by the Constitutional Court for an out-of-court settlement with political opposition parties over the Nkandla furore.

The country is likely heading for economic crisis, government collapse and regime change, argues South African journalist and historian RW Johnson [above].

Business needs to be a co-author of South Africa’s future1, rather than a victim of circumstance, a passenger, or be co-opted without knowing it, writes Ann Bernstein, head of the Centre for Development and Enterprise and a former Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC.  Business leaders have struggled to engage effectively in the democratic politics of the country, she writes:

  • They have overemphasised behind-the-scenes talks with the government and nearly totally underutilised the opportunities democracy provides to participate in public debate and through these mechanisms, influence attitudes to markets and firms.
  • They have not made the case for much higher and more inclusive growth as the only foundation to deal with the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
  • They have not made the case for how SA is to create an environment for many more new and smaller firms. They have not been effective in promoting the benefits of profit-making firms for national development or in putting forward practical proposals on how dynamic markets and companies can help resolve the country’s many challenges.

“Business needs a new strategy if it is to provide the leadership the country desperately needs,” adds Bernstein. RTWT

Ann Bernstein heads the Centre for Development and Enterprise, South Africa. An independent think tank CDE is South Africa’s leading development policy centre, with a special focus on growth, unemployment, education and the role of business. A member of the Transition Team, then the Board of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (1994 – 2001). In 2005 she was a Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC.

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