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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

OR Tambo Centenary Lecture: “What did we achieve?” asks Justice Albie Sachs on the drafting of the Constitution

In a four-part lecture delivered as part of the Oliver Tambo Centenary Series, former Justice Albie Sachs confronts aspects of the Constitution with direct parallels to critical issues faced by the country right now. Read Sachs’ recent piece for the Daily Maverick – “The Constitution as a Framework for Struggle” – here:

I didn’t sleep the night before the actual constitutional negotiations started. It was 1992, and the prospect of spending days on end in the gloomy, sprawling building near the Johannesburg airport grandiosely entitled the World Trade Centre was not enticing, even if it was slightly enlivened by a banner proclaiming CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa). Yet what kept me awake was not the cheerlessness of the venue. It was fear. My deep dread was that, after all the generations of struggle – in my case, working as an advocate by day and in the underground at night, then spending days, weeks and months in solitary confinement, with sleep deprivation thrown in, followed by 24 years of exile, seven as a stateless person, and being blown up by an apartheid bomb, losing my arm and my sight in one eye – my terror was that we would give away in a few weeks at the negotiating table all the gains we had won through strenuous travail over the decades in the trenches. I thought of my close comrades who had been tortured to death or assassinated: Solwandle Looksmart Ngudle, Elijah Loza, Babla Saloojee, Ruth First and Joe Gqabi. Would we betray their memory?

I think back to that time when I hear passionate young activists today speaking about how the Constitution was made. As they see it, at some key moments Mandela got together with certain captains of big business to assure them that, provided everyone got the vote, there would be nothing in the new Constitution to rock the existing economic system or require massive restoration of land to the people. The kinder version is that Mandela’s position was weak and he had no other option. Less generously, he was too naïve and trusting. More critically, he was simply a sell-out. These claims reduce to a simple all-defining chat by a few top personalities what was in fact an arduous, six-year-long violence-beset struggle over the Constitution, with a total breakdown and one severe crisis after the other. The role of millions of people who participated in different ways is simply eliminated.

The actual role that Mandela played at CODESA is completely misrepresented. As I have explained in my first two Oliver Tambo Centenary Lectures [See: here and here] the basic non-racial, democratic design of our Constitution came not from Mandela but from Oliver Tambo. Mandela’s role in negotiations was in fact to be the public face of the ANC and to ensure that the negotiation process remained firmly on track. Those of us who were there have to tell our story. The making of the Constitution was in fact a huge act of decolonisation in South Africa. It tore down the pillars of white domination in the political sphere and provided the instruments for achieving the next stage of liberation, namely, economic and cultural emancipation.

It is surprising that the central drama of the South African constitution-making project is not known. It wasn’t over the economic system, but over who should have the right to determine it. It wasn’t over a unitary state versus federalism – that was important but relatively secondary. It was in fact over an issue that had been raised while we were still in Lusaka and that is almost forgotten today: group rights, as Pretoria had demanded, versus majority rule and a Bill of Rights, as the ANC had insisted on.

As the struggle against apartheid had visibly gathered strength inside South Africa and worldwide denunciation of the system had intensified, proposals for new constitutional arrangements in South Africa had come pouring in from all sides. Invariably they had been based on forms of power-sharing between whites and blacks. The tenet had been that, given the deep historical and cultural cleavages in South Africa, the only way that the white minority could be expected to surrender their monopoly on power was if they were granted secure constitutional protections against a black majority rule.

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We, the People

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Watch: Edward Webster discusses the The Unresolved National Question

The Unresolved National Question in South Africa is an extremely valuable contribution to the decades-long debate on South African nationhood. Its striking feature is its highly professional and balanced approach to the various narratives and traditions that address the National Question.
— Vladimir Shubin, Russian Academy of Sciences

The re-emergence of debates on the decolonisation of knowledge has revived interest in the National Question, which began over a century ago and remains unresolved. Tensions that were suppressed and hidden in the past are now being openly debated. Despite this, the goal of one united nation living prosperously under a constitutional democracy remains elusive.

This edited volume examines the way in which various strands of left thought have addressed the National Question, especially during the apartheid years, and goes on to discuss its relevance for South Africa today and in the future. Instead of imposing a particular understanding of the National Question, the editors identified a number of political traditions and allowed contributors the freedom to define the question as they believed appropriate – in other words, to explain what they thought was the Unresolved National Question. This has resulted in a rich tapestry of interweaving perceptions.

The volume is structured in two parts. The first examines four foundational traditions – Marxism-Leninism (the Colonialism of a Special Type thesis); the Congress tradition; the Trotskyist tradition; and Africanism. The second part explores the various shifts in the debate from the 1960s onwards, and includes chapters on Afrikaner nationalism, ethnic issues, Black Consciousness, feminism, workerism and constitutionalism.

The editors hope that by revisiting the debates not popularly known among the scholarly mainstream, this volume will become a catalyst for an enriched debate on our identity and our future.

Here, co-editor Edward Webster, Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at Wits University, discusses the debate surrounding race, gender and class – the unresolved questions our nation is grappling with – on SABC News:

The Unresolved National Question

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NIHSS Award winners to be announced tonight

The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) Award winners will be announced on Wednesday 29 March 2017. The awards are aimed at recognising and awarding outstanding, innovative and socially responsible scholarship that enhance and advance the fields of Human Social Sciences. They are awarded for the best non-fiction monograph; the best edited non-fiction volume; the best fiction book; the best creative collections, and digital contributions category.

Wits University Press is proud of having 5 finalists in the shortlists for these awards, with two books shortlisted for the best Non-fiction monograph, namely Gabeba Baderoon’s Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid, as well as Susan Booysen’s Dominance & Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma. In the category for best Non-fiction Edited Volume, Wits Press’s urban studies book, Changing Space, Changing City: Johannesburg after Apartheid, edited by Phil Harrison, Graeme Gotz, Alison Todes and Chris Wray is a finalist. And in the category for best Creative Collections in the Visual Arts, Wits Press boasts two finalists. They are Beadwork, Art and the Body – Dilo tse Dintsha/Abundance, edited by Anitra Nettleton, and a book on the work of the artist Penny Siopis, Penny Siopis: Time and Again, edited by Gerrit Olivier.

NIHSS CEO, Prof Sarah Mosoetsa said much work needs to be done to identify, support and promote new South African voices, authors and stories in the humanities and social sciences.

Wits University Press publisher, Veronica Klipp said she is pleased that South African scholarly publishing is receiving recognition through these awards. Apart from contributing to research and scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, it also stimulates public debate on a number of important issues and creates new forms of democratic spaces.

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Presenting Fiona Moolla’s Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms

Natures of AfricaComing soon from Wits University Press, Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms edited by Fiona Moolla:

Foreword by Byron Caminero-Santangelo:

Environmental and animal studies are rapidly growing areas of interest across a number of disciplines. Natures of Africa is one of the first edited volumes which encompasses transdisciplinary approaches to a number of cultural forms, including fiction, non-fiction, oral expression and digital media. The volume features new research from East Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the ecocritical and eco-activist “powerhouses” of Nigeria and South Africa.
The chapters engage one another conceptually and epistemologically without an enforced consensus of approach. In their conversation with dominant ideas about nature and animals, they reveal unexpected insights into forms of cultural expression of local communities in Africa. The analyses explore different apprehensions of the connections between humans, animals and the environment, and suggest alternative ways of addressing the challenges facing the continent. These include the problems of global warming, desertification, floods, animal extinctions and environmental destruction attendant upon fossil fuel extraction.

There are few books that show how nature in Africa is represented, celebrated, mourned or commoditised. Natures of Africa weaves together studies of narratives – from folklore, travel writing, novels and popular songs – with the insights of poetry and contemporary reflections of Africa on the worldwide web. The chapters test disciplinary and conceptual boundaries, highlighting the ways in which the environmental concerns of African communities cannot be disentangled from social, cultural and political questions.

This volume draws on and will appeal to scholars and teachers of oral tradition and indigenous cultures, literature, religion, sociology and anthropology, environmental and animal studies, as well as media and digital cultures in an African context.

About the editor

Fiona Moolla teaches African Literature at the University of the Western Cape. Her work focuses on the nexus between oral, print and digital cultures, highlighting human, animal, environmental and cosmic relationships.She is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel and the Idea of Home.

Foreword Byron Caminero-Santangelo

Chapter 1: “Here is some baobab leaf!”: Sunjata, foodways and biopiracy Jonathan Bishop Highfield

Chapter 2: Shona as a land-based nature-culture: A study of the (re)construction of Shona land mythology in popular songs Mickias Musiyiwa

Chapter 3: The environment as signifi cant Other: The green nature of Shona indigenous religion Jacob Mapara

Chapter 4: Animal praise poetry and the Samburu desire to survive James Maina Wachira

Chapter 5: Voluntourism paradoxes: Strategic visual tropes of the natural on South African voluntourism websites Reinier JM Vriend

Chapter 6: Toward ecocriticism in Africa: Literary aesthetics in African environmental literature Chengyi Coral Wu

Chapter 7: Critical intersections: Ecocriticism, globalised cities and African narrative, with a focus on K Sello Duiker’s Thirteen Cents Antony Vital

Chapter 8: Navigating Gariep country: Writing nature and culture in Borderline by William Dicey Mathilda Slabbert

Chapter 9: Negotiating identity in a vanishing geography: Home, environment and displacement in Helon Habila’s Oil on Water Ogaga Okuyade

Chapter 10: Animal narrators in Patrice Nganang’s Dog Days: An Animal Chronicle and Alain Mabanckou’s Memoirs of a Porcupine Wendy Woodward

Chapter 11: Nature, animism and humanity in Anglophone Nigerian poetry Sule Egya

Chapter 12: Animals, nostalgia, and Zimbabwe’s rural landscape in the poetry of Chenjerai Hove and Musaemura Zimunya Syned Mthatiwa

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Benedict Wallet Vilakazi – the ‘Father of Nguni Literature’ – honoured with Order of Ikhamanga

The late Zulu poet, novelist and linguist Benedict Wallet Vilakazi will be honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga today.

The National Orders Awards are awarded annually to those who have “played a momentous role towards building a free democratic South Africa and who also have made a significant impact on improving the lives of South Africans in various ways”.

Vilakazi and Marguerite Poland are the two writers who will be receiving the Order of Ikhamanga this year, an award that recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

Wits University Press published Vilakazi’s first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (Zulu Horizons) – the poetry ever published in isiZulu – and a subsequent volume Amal’eZulu, as well as the first Zulu-English Dictionary, which Vilakazi compiled in collaboration with CM Doke.

Find out more, from Wits Press:

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi has been called the “Father of Nguni Literature”. He was born on 6 January, 1906 at Groutville Mission Station near Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal. The poet grew up in the neighbourhood of the mission station and in 1912 entered the primary school at Groutville, remaining there until he reached Standard 4. He continued his schooling at Marianhill, the Roman Catholic Monastery outside Durban, and after reaching standard 6, took a teacher’s training course.

Vilakazi’s gifts and ambitions came to the fore when he attended the Catholic Seminary at Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, where he devoted much of his spare time to distance education. He succeeded in matriculating, after which he taught at the Ohlange Institute in Phoenix near Durban. In 1934 he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in African Studies. At the time, Vilakazi was already known to academics at the University of the Witwatersrand, which was in the process of publishing his first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (tr: Zulu Horizons). This was the first book of poems ever published in isiZulu; it also marked the launch of the newly established Bantu (later: African) Treasury Series (published by Wits University Press), a collection of 20 classic works written between 1935 and the 1987 in African indigenous languages.

Coincidentally, the University was looking for an assistant in its Bantu Studies Department (now the Department of African Languages). At the insistence of CM Doke, at the time Head of Department, Vilakazi was appointed as Language Assistant in 1935. This appointment made him the first black African in the then Union of South Africa to teach at a white university, and it sparked a controversy: treated with suspicion by conservative whites, it was also seen as a “collaborationist appointment” (1) by some in the black political elite.

Vilakazi continued his own studies and, in 1938, was awarded a Master of Arts degree. In 1946 he reached another milestone by becoming the first black African in South Africa to receive a Doctorate in Literature (D Litt.) from Wits for his thesis The Oral and Written Literature in Nguni.

When Vilakazi entered the literary field, there were no published books of plays or poems written in isiZulu, and from 1930 onwards for 10 years, Vilakazi, HIE and RRR Dhlomo dominated the literary scene. Amal’eZulu (Wits University Press), published in 1945, was later recognized as one the best 100 African books of the twentieth century. Vilakazi also published three novels, Noma Nini! (Marianhill Mission Press), Udingiswayo KaJobe (Sheldon Press) and Nje Nempela (Marianhill Mission Press). In collaboration with Doke, he compiled the first Zulu-English Dictionary (Wits University Press). Writing in 1995, Dumisani Ntshangase asserted that Vilakazi and Doke:

produced the first major lexicographical work in an African language and this dictionary even today stands as the most successful and comprehensive project in African Languages lexicography in South Africa. (2)

In his writings, Vilakazi thought of himself as a spokesperson for his people and he identified with the struggles, fears, sacrifices and aspirations of his people. However, because of the bias towards African literature written in English – a bias that dominated academic discourse as well as debates within the resistance movement of the time – “his works have always been put in the periphery of the African intellectual history.” (3)

Vilakazi died suddenly of meningitis at Coronation Hospital at the age of 41 on 26 October, 1947, survived by five children. He was undoubtedly the most outstanding figure in Zulu literature of his time, and his funeral in Marianhill was attended by thousands of people.


1. Dumisani Kruschchev Ntshangase, Between the Lion and the Devil: The Life and Works of BW Vilakazi, 1906-1947. Paper presented for the Institute for Advanced Social Research, University of Witwatersrand 1995. Page 3.
2. Ntshangase 1995, page 2.
3. Ntshangase 1995, page 1.

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Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt wins British Sociological Association Ethnography Award

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border FarmsCongratulations to Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt, winner of the 2016 BBC Thinking Allowed/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award for his book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

Thinking Allowed in association with the British Sociological Association offers the annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography: the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.

Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms, explores uncertainty in a post-apartheid South Africa. During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for work as farm labourers. Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependents, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa’s agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform.

Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope, said about Bolt’s book: “In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counterintuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. The monograph sheds light on new and important social processes. It is a significant achievement.”

Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham and a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand. His doctoral thesis, on whose research this monograph draws, was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK.

Listen to an interview with Bolt talking to Laurie Taylor on the BBC (The interview starts at 10:36 minutes in):

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Wits University Press pays tribute to Martin Legassick

Hamba Kahle Martin Legassick (1940 – 2016)

It is never pleasant to receive news of an author’s passing; the fact that his book is still in its final stages of completion makes it even less so. Hidden Histories of Gordonia: Land dispossession and resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800 – 1990 is without a doubt Martin Legassick’s “magnum opus”, to borrow the description used by historians Neil Parsons and Robert Ross.

The book will be published in May 2016. It is a great sadness that Martin will not get to hold a physical copy in his hands. He worked on it, between all the other writing, peer reviewing, activism and lectures, for close on 25 years, and we hope it’s a book he would have been proud of.

Martin had a remarkable gift for storytelling and in this final work he brings to life the craggy, desert-like landscape of the Northern Cape and its histories of the “black” and “brown” people, who are often rendered mute or to mere footnotes in mainstream narratives. It is a fascinating and deeply moving work with a historian’s eye for detail and the long view.

While working with Wits University Press on this manuscript, he did not mention his illness. He cooperated with Karen Press on getting the manuscript polished and ready for publication. He remained committed throughout the process to ensure a work of profound quality, even when some of our queries tested his patience!

When we shared the book cover with him, his spirits lifted. He wrote: “It is fantastic, much superior to anything I could have expected”.

Covers always test the author/publisher relationship and his approval and delight are even more poignant in this moment. At least he could imagine the book as a tangible object and we’d like to think it brought him joy during a time of physical pain.

Martin contributed chapters to many Wits Press publications and peer reviewed a number of manuscripts. He was a tough but fair reviewer – much like he was in life. The scholarly community has lost a gem.

It is a great pity that he missed seeing the publication by two short months, but we believe it will stand as a testimony to the intellectual legacy he has left behind.

Rest in peace, Martin Legassick.

Hidden HistoriesHidden Histories of Gordonia: Land dispossession and resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800 – 1990 will be published in May 2016 by Wits University Press.

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An important new book on the political, economic and social effects of Marikana: New South African Review 5

The latest volume of the New South Africa Review is a testimony to how this series has established itself as an important touchstone for informed debate about South Africa’s volatile present; poised between the country’s full-fledged recolonisation by global capital, on the one hand, and attempts to revitalise resistance and a fresh struggle for a more meaningful liberation, on the other.

- John S Saul, author of A Flawed Freedom: Rethinking Southern African Liberation

New South African Review 5New South African Review 5: Beyond Marikana, edited by Devan Pillay, Gilbert M Khadiagala, Prishani Naidoo and Roger Southall, takes as its starting point the shockwave emanating from the events at Marikana on 16 August 2012 and how it has reverberated throughout politics and society:

Some of the chapters in the volume refer directly to Marikana. In others, the influence of that fateful day is pervasive if not direct. Marikana has, for instance, made us look differently at the police and at how order is imposed on society. Monique Marks and David Bruce write that the massacre “has come to hold a central place in the analysis of policing, and broader political events since 2012 …”

The chapters highlight a range of current concerns – political, economic and social. David Dickinson’s chapter looks at the life of the poor in a township from within. In contrast, the chapter on foreign policy by Garth le Pere analyses South Africa’s approach to international relations in the Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma eras. Anthony Turton’s account, “When gold mining ends”, is a chilling forecast of an impending environmental catastrophe. Both Devan Pillay and Noor Nieftagodien focus attention on the left and, in different ways, ascribe its rise to a new politics in the wake of Marikana.

The essays in Beyond Marikana present a range of topics and perspectives of interest to general readers, but the book will also be a useful work of reference for students and researchers.

Introduction by Prishani Naidoo

1 Post-Marikana Reconstituting and Re-imagining the Left: Prospects and Challenges by Noor Nieftagodien
2 Labour and Community Struggles in Post-apartheid South Africa by Marcel Paret
3 The Numsa Moments and the Prospects of Left Re-vitalisation in South Africa by Devan Pillay
4 The South African Economy by Samantha Ashman
5 Between a Rock and a Hard Place: State-business Relations in the South African Mining Sector by Ross Harvey
6 From Wiehahn to Marikana: The Platinum Belt Strike Wave and the Breakdown in Institutionalisation of
Industrial Conflict by Crispen Chinguno
7 Pulling a Rabbit from the Proverbial Hat: Dealing with Johannesburg’s Slow Onset Uranium Disaster
by Anthony Turton
8 Constitutionalism in South Africa: An ‘Unqualified Human Good’? by Pierre de Vos
9 People’s Parliament? Do Citizens Influence South Africa’s Legislatures? by Samantha Waterhouse
10 Corruption in South Africa: Perceptions and Trends by Ivor Sarakinsky
11 Groundhog Day? Public Order Policing Twenty Years into Democracy by Monique Marks and David Bruce
12 ‘In December We Are Rich, in January We Are Poor’: Consumption, Saving, Stealing and Insecurity in the Kasi by David Dickinson
13 The Evolution of South Africa’s Foreign Policy: A Thematic Essay by Garth le Pere
14 South Africa, the BRICS and Human Rights: In Bad Company? by Karen Smith
15 Trading with the Frienemy: How South Africa Depends on African Trade by Rod Alence

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New South African ReviewNew South African Review 2New South African Review 3New South African Review 4
  • New South African Review: 2010: Development or Decline? edited by John Daniel, Prishani Naidoo, Devan Pillay, Roger Southall
    EAN: 9781868145164
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Join Mary and Bob Scholes for cocktails and Climate Change conversation at The Orbit, Braamfontein

Wits Press would like to invite you to an exciting event with Mary and Bob Scholes, co-authors of Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa.

Climate Change: Briefings from Southern AfricaWhat is the fingerprint of human-caused climate change? Is today’s climate system outside the zone in which advanced human societies developed? Can we blame climate change for the extreme weather in South Africa in 2015/2016? What is the feasible range to which future climate change can be limited? And, most importantly, how does one distinguish science from non-science in the climate space?

Climate change is higher in the public attention than ever before, because of the historic agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reached in Paris in December 2015, as well as the current drought and heatwave affecting large parts of southern Africa. Nonetheless, there are persistent denialist voices in the media, claiming that this is all just natural variability; or that it doesn’t matter; or that it is a plot to thwart development; or that there is nothing we can do about climate change anyway.

Professors Bob and Mary Scholes from Wits, who, together with Professor Mike Lucas of UCT, are co-authors of Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa, will present the science that underpins global concerns about climate change, and give guidance on how to distinguish the valid evidence from the deliberate obfuscation.

Afterwards, some of the coldest cocktails on the planet will counterbalance the effects of global warming, while Janus van der Merwe’s Donkey plays grimy (but environmentally friendly) nu jazz.

Entrance to the event costs R20. Doors open at 6:30 PM, no admittance after 8:00 PM. No registration is necessary but guests are strongly encouraged to arrive early. Dinner is served from 6:00 PM. Guests wishing to have dinner before the event should book in advance with The Orbit and arrive by 6:30 PM.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 26 January 2016
  • Time: 6:30 for dinner and drinks, talk starts at 8 PM
  • Venue: The Orbit,
    81 De Korte Street
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Speakers: Bob and Mary Scholes
  • Refreshments will be served
  • Cover charge: R20
  • Book for dinner: The Orbit
  • More info: Science and Cocktails


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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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