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“The ANC is Not at the Point of Collapsing” – Susan Booysen at the Launch of Dominance and Decline

Susan Booysen

The launch of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen, political analyst, media commentator and academic in the Wits School of Governance, was another excellent event held at The Book Lounge in November. The author was joined by Judith February, a senior research associate at the Institute for Security Studies, in an insightful discussion on the contemporary political scenario.

February reflected on Booysen’s first book, The African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power, and wondered whether Booysen seemed a little less upbeat in her latest publication about the ANC’s prospects for regenerating itself.

Susan BooysenDominance and DeclineBooysen started writing her first book in 2009 shortly after the election that brought Jacob Zuma to power. She had been taken up with the promise of regeneration, the need to reconnect with the people of the ANC that had been lost under Thabo Mbeki. Yet, as the first drafts of that book took shape, she found herself revising substantially and taking stock of what was materialising.

Dominance and Decline was initially going to be a second edition of Booysen’s first book, to be completed during a sabbatical, but it became a sequel. Booysen says she realised that this period of Zuma’s dominance over the ANC was becoming very tangible with multiple effects on the ruling party and on the citizens of the country. “The trends were there. Little details were continuously being filled in. As I finalised this book I was holding my breath, wondering if there was going to be some definitive event that would change my analysis.”

February articulated the inherent contradiction of the ANC which is both dominant and in decline. She invited Booysen to comment on the paradoxical fragility and strength.

Booysen observed that one cannot get away from the ultimate electoral verdicts and the immense power of its electoral campaigns. “Courtesy of those elections it still maintains – despite the decline and the damage it has sustained to its fibre – very close to a 40 percent point edge over its closest opposition, and that is immense. It is incredibly dominant. It is so well entrenched in state power, to the extent that it will be difficult if the ANC loses electoral power, even if it is 40 percentage points away at last count, to dislodge it from power,” she said.

Booysen continued: “So much happens in the student revolts around us. Each time one of these events happens, like when the EFF forms, there’s a little chip that falls off the sturdy ANC block. But the block remains even though the block has feet of clay. It is not at a point of collapsing.”


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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) live tweeted the event using #livebooks:



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