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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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.

CONTENTS
Introduction by Prishani Naidoo
PART 1: NEW POLITICAL DIRECTIONS?

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
PART 2: ECONOMY, ECOLOGY AND LABOUR
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
PART 3: THE STATE AND SOCIETY
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
PART 4: SA IN THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA
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

Book details

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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Adam Habib explains why Wits invited private security onto campus after last week’s protests

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionInguqukombuso YeNingizimu Afrika Eyabondwa YashiywaNtwa ya Boitseko e Fanyehuweng ya Afrika BorwaRewolusie op ys

 

Professor Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of Wits University and author of South Africa’s Suspended Revolution, has released a statement on the Wits Senior Executive Team’s decision to bring private security onto campus.

Last week, members of the “Fees Must Fall” movement interrupted registration for first-year students, leading to face-to-face registration being called off and students being urged to register online.

Habib says the use of private security was preferable to public order policing for a number of reasons. The use of public order police would have required a court order, he says, adding that in addition “once they are invited onto campus, one is not allowed to limit their operations or influence their tactics and strategies”.

Habib says that with private security, Wits has the power to impose limits on operations, including banning the use of guns.

Read the statement in full:

Response to critique of campus safety and security arrangements
18 January 2016 – Adam Habib

Open letter by Professor Adam Habib on behalf of the Senior Executive Team:

I write to you in my capacity as Vice-Chancellor and Principal, with the full support of the Senior Executive Team (SET).

In the past week, some of you have bluntly expressed concerns in public and directly to me about the decision of the Senior Executive Team to bring private security onto campus. For those of you who have raised these concerns, please allow me the privilege of being as bold and blunt in my response, in the interests of identifying the options that are available to us as a university community. Please also forgive me for the length of my reply, but I do think that it is necessary for everyone to comprehensively understand from where we are coming.

One of you has suggested that you cannot understand why we would have brought private security and police to the university. It would have been useful – perhaps even necessary – for this person to have determined this before pronouncing so categorically on our decision, and attempting to begin a global campaign on the issue. Nevertheless, let me provide some details. On Monday this past week a small group of students were not simply peacefully protesting and dissenting. Instead, they were actively preventing registration from taking place. They were abusive of people, threatening them, and in some cases people were locked up in their offices. There was one male protester who told a female staff member that he knows where she lives and will take her out. In addition, I received a number of written requests, including one from a student leader expressing fear about being violently targeted by the protesters. These actions represented ‘violations of rights’ and the abuse of other members of our university community. These actions and countless others by the protesters forced us to bring an end to face-to-face registration.

Consequences of postponement of registration

Let me explain the net effect of stopping the registration process. We have two forms of registration, online and face-to-face, with telephone registration as a back-up to be instituted when required. Forcing us to cancel face-to-face registration adversely affected the poorest of those who wanted to register. Online registration enabled the middle and upper middle classes to continue with the process. They have online facilities and they have credit cards. They were not adversely affected, even if some may have been slightly inconvenienced. But the old man from Limpopo, who scraped whatever monies he could raise from family, friends and his community to ensure that his grandson registered, was severely impacted. He and his grandson travelled for hours, only to be told that he could not register because some group of activists had decided that they would shut down registration unless all historic debt had been cancelled and free education immediately granted. There were many such people on that day, and there were many more throughout the week. All attempts to get protesters to allow the registration to proceed came to naught.

Protecting the rights of all

Were this grandfather and his grandson, as well as the countless others, not victims? Do they not require our sympathy and outrage? Do they not require our best institutional support to register and embark on an academic career? I have heard some academics express unhappiness at our use of private security both now and at the end of last year, but I have never heard any of these same academics express public outrage at the violation of the rights of others – whether those be the staff member whose life is threatened, the ill staff member who could not make a doctor’s appointment to obtain medication for a life threatening disease, or other student leaders who have been threatened and now feel silenced and unsafe. Are these not also members of our University community? Do we decide to ignore them simply because they do not carry the correct ideological line? Maybe it has to do with the fact that these individuals do not figure prominently within our networks or community, from whom we draw political affirmation. Is this why some of us are not concerned about their rights?

For those who have raised the security concerns, the challenge that we believe you need to consider is: how would you have enabled the grandfather from Limpopo to register his grandson? How else would you have protected the staff members and students that were being harassed and threatened? In fact, we are aware that some concluded in private conversations that took place regarding the security arrangements that they did not know what should be done and had no alternatives to suggest. Nevertheless, they still remain opposed to the security arrangements that have been made. The net effect of this position is that the poor student must be denied the right to register, and that the interests of staff and students who have been threatened should be ignored.

We are aware that this view is reflected by a minority of our academic colleagues only. The vast majority of our academic and professional and administrative staff have expressed support for our actions and we have the emails and correspondence to prove this. We know the typical response to this: they are seen as conservatives, opposed to the transformation of the University. Is this response not a tad arrogant? Should we allocate ourselves the right to label all those we disagree with as conservatives? And even if they are conservatives, why should their rights not be protected by the university like those of all others?

Decisions around security arrangements

I want to assure you that we did not make the security arrangements lightly. I understand the disempowerment that one experiences from security arrangements that are outside of one’s control. I probably understand this more than many colleagues because I personally experienced what it meant to be imprisoned under state of emergency conditions. I experienced what it meant to be in solitary confinement, to be interrogated and to feel the fear that you may not see your loved ones again. I understand what it means to be deported by a foreign government without any just cause, or to be strip-searched in an airport in another country. I understand about being disempowered by arbitrary security actions. Other colleagues on the executive have had similar harsh experiences. Professor Tawana Kupe lived in Zimbabwe and has an acute understanding of the arbitrary use of power. Professor Zeblon Vilakazi grew up in Katlehong and has very real personal experiences of arbitrary violence. This is why we collectively would not make decisions like this lightly.

I also want to assure those who are concerned that claims that security assaulted students are untrue. We have viewed the video footage of last week’s events and we have not found anything that supports these claims. On the contrary, there is video footage in which students can be seen to be engaging in threatening activities against security.

Many have asked why private security was brought in and not public order policing? The answer is simple: public order police would have immediately required a court order to become operational on campus. More importantly, once they are invited onto campus, one is not allowed to limit their operations or influence their tactics and strategies. With private security, such limitations can be imposed. We have insisted that no guns must be used in any operations. We therefore decided to deploy private security on campus, with public order police on standby. For those who were worried about this arrangement, would they have preferred that we brought the public order police onto campus immediately? Would that not have allowed for the use of rubber bullets and other actions as have happened in other university settings in recent weeks? Or would they have preferred that we simply have no one, and deny protection to both the staff members and students who were threatened and the grandfather from Limpopo who wanted to register his grandson?

Some may ask why we did not use our own campus security? This answer is also simple: they are not sufficiently trained for this scale of protest. We could bring in a more adequately trained campus security team but do we truly want a ‘militarised’ campus all year round when this scale of security and protection is not required? Does it not make sense to use the campus security that we have – perhaps more efficient and better trained – and bring in the enhanced security arrangements as and when they are required? This was the case this week and given this, we simply cannot accede to the request of some to remove our security arrangements, at least until we are guaranteed that registration will continue without disruption and that the safety and security of all staff and students will not be threatened.

Some of you have also requested that we should publish the contracts with the security companies, including the associated financial costs. We are not averse to making these contracts available at the appropriate time given that we are a public university. This information should be received bearing in mind that we have to balance our expenses on security with the academic, financial and reputational consequences of not having had any. It is also worth noting that a significant portion of the associated costs of our security arrangements may be covered by our insurance cover

Complacency around violence

I should perhaps sign off now that I have responded to the immediate issues, but I beg your indulgence to also raise some related matters. Many academics, now and before, have been involved in solidarity actions around the student and worker protests. This is legitimate and should be respected and valued at a university such as Wits. All of these individuals have also been critical of the executive’s decisions around the management of this protest and our willingness to accede to the demands. Again this is their right. At some point we need to engage on how we understand social action and how social outcomes are realised; the balance to be struck between protest and institutional engagement; the necessity of trade-offs and who should be responsible for these; and our response on the rise of racial essentialism within the midst of the protesting community. But those are debates for another time

More immediately, I want to engage all of you on the complacency of some regarding violence or the threat of it within our protesting communities, and the political project of some actors to delegitimise institutional structures and replace them with revolutionary alternatives.

Many have stood firm against the presence of private security and public order police on campus, but have been shockingly sanguine about violence within the community of protesters. Many have simply turned a blind eye to violence or threats thereof, and some have even advocated violence as a legitimate means in a revolutionary moment. Really? At a university? In this moment, in a democratic era, whatever our criticisms of it? Is there not a romanticising of violence by middle class activists and academics? Have we truly considered the consequences of allowing violence to prevail within our community? I worked in the townships around Pietermaritzburg – Mpophomeni, Sobantu, Imbali and Edendale – at the height of the ANC-Inkatha wars in the 1980s. The near civil war decimated the communities and undermined the possibility of any egalitarian project. If this is true of communities under economic pressure, how much more is it true of the University itself which is meant to be a free and safe space for all ideas? Can we truly extrapolate that because of the presence of structural violence as a result of neoliberalism and racial exclusion, personal violence can now be justified both within and outside of a university community? Even if one holds this view, is one not in violation of one’s implicit and explicit social compact with the University community to protect all within it, and its broader project of learning?

For many, these protests are a struggle for free education for the poor. This is a legitimate struggle, as I and many of the Wits executive have so often argued. But many are also aware that for some, this struggle is more than that. It is a means to achieve other political ends, whether those are constructed around the upcoming elections, or to create a systemic crisis that collapses the Zuma administration. Again, those agendas are legitimate and allowed in a democratic environment dependent on how they are undertaken

I have personally also been publicly critical of this government, probably more than most have. However, as Vice-Chancellor of this institution, it is my responsibility to ensure that this University survives intellectually and is not a casualty in a broader political struggle within the society. Our individual social contracts with the University and with the broader academy are to protect the academic community and the learning project itself, whatever our other political agendas. We cannot sacrifice this institution or this academic project to the vagaries of our other political agendas. This is what governs our actions as an executive.

The need to learn from past mistakes

Some may know that I worked at UDW in the 1990s. I was a general secretary of the union movement and an integral member of the concerned academic group. I, like some of you today, took positions against private security on campus, and to be fair, I too was sanguine about the violence perpetrated by the protesters and dissidents with whom I associated. Then too, a moment emerged when some believed that they could replace the university structures with revolutionary alternatives, where non-violence was a bourgeois distraction, and where the university could be sacrificed to the broader political project for egalitarianism. Then too, colleagues ignored the capability and legitimacy of the state to respond. I did not believe in and was not comfortable with the tactics used, although I must say that I did share (and still do) the commitment to the broader project of egalitarianism and free education for the poor. However, even though I was uncomfortable with the strategies and tactics, I was complacent about the violence and did not firmly enough register my opposition. Eventually the protesters did bring the university to a standstill through violence or the threat thereof. They did try to replace its statutory structures – the SRC, management, Senate and Council – with revolutionary alternatives. In the end, the state did move in, acted against the protesters and brought back stability to the campus. But the damage had been done. The university was intellectually decimated as its top students and academics had abandoned it. The middle and upper middle class student and academic activists, some with trust funds, slunk away. Some of the academics with second passports simply moved back to their home countries. By the time I left, the Faculty of Humanities had a single professor, who served as dean. The real casualties of this experiment were not the activists and academics who had romanticised violence, even though some of them individually suffered. It was the poor black students who had no other alternative but to continue to go to that university.

This is the real fear I have. I vowed then never to repeat that mistake. I will never remain silent and allow a culture of violence and ungovernability to prevail within an institution of learning. I will never remain silent when a university and its learning project is being sacrificed to broader political goals, however attractive they may be. I learnt then, through hard experience, the real responsibility of the academic in a transforming university.

Preventing an egalitarianism of poverty

I urge you to consider one other point. Many of us had the privilege to study in the universities of North America or Western Europe, some even in the Ivy leagues like Chicago and Yale. But if we are to address the inequalities of our world, including those in the academy, then it is essential that we establish our own research intensive universities. Wits should be one of these, not only because of our strong intellectual legacy, but also because of the fact that we are far more demographically representative than any of our research intensive peers. For us to succeed in our research intensive goals, however, we need to protect this institution as we navigate the current turbulent political times. We need to ensure that we make decisions and undertake trade-offs that do not unravel the foundations of our research intensive capabilities. We must not pursue a strategy of realising an egalitarianism of poverty for it would reinforce the very inequalities of our world. To avoid this, it is important to know our history, especially in higher education. It is important to learn about our experiments, failed and successful, at transformation and institutional reform. It is important to know this simply so that we can collectively learn from the mistakes of our past. I have seen some of the proposals recommending institutional reform, and I was struck by how often they seemed ignorant of our past experiments and de-contextualized from our realities.

Finally, the issues facing the entire university system are access and funding. These cannot be resolved immediately and independently by Wits as an institution. We do not have the resources to do so. The issue needs to be dealt with in a coordinated way – involving students and management and other actors in the national system. The current strategy of shutting down the University is, in our view, detrimental to the task of building a transformed and academically excellent institution. While we support the overall aims and want to build a powerful alliance, the current strategy is not one that the University management can support. While we respect and will protect the right to protest, at the same time we have to ensure that the University is able to continue with its core activities. This is our responsibility. There will be times when protesters embark on actions that challenge the functioning of the University in ways that have far-reaching effects. We then have the unenviable task of making difficult decisions in order to protect the rights of all students but particularly the poorest students who cannot afford the loss of the academic calendar. We have to facilitate access of all students to the University, even while protest unfolds.

I urge you to think through some of these issues, and I would be happy to engage further with any of you should you want to do so.

Professor Adam Habib on behalf of the Senior Executive Team of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

17 January 2016

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“I think Zuma is going to be with us long after he has left office” – Susan Booysen in The Economist

Dominance and DeclineThe Economist refers to Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen in an article speculating on the next president of South Africa.

The Economist names Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa as likely successors to Zuma’s throne.

Ramaphosa is described as having “a sober, Mr Fix-It reputation”, but The Economist believes he would have to build support “softly-softly”.

Dlamini-Zuma, on the other hand, is criticised for her record in government, as health minister, foreign minister and home minister.

The Economist quotes Booysen’s opinion on the tenacity of Zuma’s presidential legacy:

Ms Dlamini-Zuma has said nothing publicly about what she might do if she becomes president. Susan Booysen, author of the book “Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma”, predicts that she would be much like her ex-husband. That worries liberals, who fret that Mr Zuma has undermined institutions that check presidential power and tolerated widespread corruption. “I think Zuma is going to be with us long after he has actually left office,” says Ms Booysen.

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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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“Oh We Had Fun”: Pioneering Documentary Photographer Omar Badsha Chats About His Life’s Work

One Hundred Years of the ANCEarlier this year, Omar Badsha, co-editor of One Hundred Years of the ANC: Liberation Histories and Democracy Today and one of South Africa’s most celebrated documentary photographers, sat down with Linda Fekisi to talk about his life’s work.

“Inyathi ibuzwa kwabaphambili! This Xhosa proverbs that means wisdom and knowledge is learnt from the elders, comes to mind as we speak. Omar Badsha, is a goldmine of an elder,” Fekisi writes in her article for The Journalist. During the interview they spoke about the photos he has taken, the meanings they have taken on (to him and others) and the things he has learned along the way.

“All photographs have different meanings to different people because you bring your own experiences to the image and you then read it. Firstly, from your standpoint and secondly you read it from the caption or vice versa. Then you react to the picture,” Badsha says.

Towards the end of the conversation Fekisi asks a poignant question: “What did the Struggle Generations do when they were not plotting to overthrow the apartheid government?” To which Badsha replies: “Oh we had fun.”

Read the article for more about this remarkable man:

He is a member of the post-Sharpeville generation of activist artists who, together with his close friend Dumile Feni, wrestled with the challenges that black artists and academics faced in a period of intensive repression during apartheid. Badsha rediscovered many of the works for the Seedtime exhibition, including a collection by Dumile Feni, in his father’s tiny flat after his death in 2003.

I am humbled as I sit down to talk with a man whose work exudes our recent history. I am worried because he is sharp. Has a critical eye for detail. I toy with comparing him with artistic greats but I dump the idea. He is iconic. Individualistic. Stands alone.

I leave his Woodstock apartment on a sunny winter afternoon with a tank full of knowledge. He has shared with me his new narrative for photography and has given me a glimpse into the frivolous activities of freedom fighters when they were not opposing apartheid. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Watch a video by SABC2 Eastern-angled lifestyle programme Mela about Badsha’s photography and life:

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  • One Hundred Years of the ANC: Liberation Histories and Democracy Today edited by Arianna Lissoni, Jon Soske, Natasha Erlank, Noor Nieftagodien and Omar Badsha
    Book homepage
    EAN: 9781868145737
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Jacob Zuma Likes to be Cast as a Man of the People, But is He? – Susan Booysen

Dominance and DeclineThe twilight of Jacob Zuma’s controversial leadership of the governing African National Congress (ANC) and the country finds both in a parlous state. The party is in decline and centred on Zuma’s personality, while his flawed leadership undermines its ability to govern competently. I explore these themes in Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma. This is an edited extract from the book.Susan Booysen, University of the Witwatersrand

President Jacob Zuma’s entrance ticket into his Polokwane 2007 election was “reconnection with the people”. He was “the man of the people”, close to those who, the Zuma camp argued, then-president Thabo Mbeki had alienated. The evidence of this having been achieved is ambiguous.

Judged by general citizen sentiment expressed at the grassroots, Zuma failed to bring the ANC closer to the people. My research has shown substantial alienation between the ANC and the communities:

  • On general democracy issues citizens felt aggrieved that they frequently only saw their elected representatives at election times, and that ANC leaders care more for themselves than for the people. In election campaigns they are flooded with ANC visitors, leading to another round of “empty promises” and appeals for support for the “liberation movement”.

  • In ANC structures and meetings there are two trends: the insiders that speak glowingly of the great work of the movement; and those who regard themselves as ANC supporters (and often are ANC members), but feel excluded, for example not welcomed into branch meetings.

Research decimates the Zuma camp’s argument that the people do not care about the Nkandla scandal, involving the use of public funds on his private residence, and similar issues. The people greatly care and deeply begrudge the new political elites and their president for greed and consumption of public resources. My research project showed hardly a word of pardon or praise for the president. Instead, there was a wall of condemnation and ridicule.

The research findings contrasted with ANC staff and workers on the 2014 campaign trail, for example, testifying how Zuma was welcomed with accolades and warmth when he went campaigning. Such images were also beamed across South Africa when Zuma’s community appearances were televised.

Zuma’s “people charm”, bolstered by the general pull of power, was his great redeeming factor in his relentless quest to get into and retain presidential power for all of his second term. The Jacob Zuma Legacy Special advertising campaign put together by the state-transporty company Prasa proclaimed that he has “mainly endeared himself to people through his personal charisma and magnetic charm”.

In an interview with Business in Africa in 2009 on the eve of becoming South Africa’s president, Zuma singled out Oliver Tambo as one of his role models in becoming “a man of the people”:

While Tambo was a great thinker, he was very simple. There is nothing he did not do … When people came to him he attended to them. He would even attend to somebody who comes to raise the issue of the shoe that doesn’t have shoelaces, he would ensure that the shoelaces were found … I am not a great man. I am a man of the people. I believe in people and I think that the people are everything. Once there is disconnection with the people you have problems …

Zuma’s connection with the people is partial. At least two major events, in Gauteng and in Limpopo (one was Nelson Mandela’s memorial service), saw Zuma being booed by large numbers in the audiences. ANC strategists, subsequently, carefully managed Zuma’s exposure to avoid public embarrassment.

Some “closeness to the people” was evident in the audiences Zuma has entertained at his residences in Pretoria and Nkandla. Across class, aspirant “tenderpreneurs”, (the name given to entrepreneurs who have created businesses from government tenders), and modest community members with pension and social grant issues rub shoulders while waiting for and then consulting with Zuma.

Many of the after-hours visitors are put in touch with relevant government departments. These meetings give insights into the Zuma presidency’s creation of personalised patronage networks, the other side of the formal government networks and operations. Aspects of the meetings also resemble traditional leadership community meetings.

In refutation of Zuma as the president of the people who understands their culture, my research reveals popular ridicule of the president. When focus group participants from across the demographic spectrum received the positive prompt of “Zuma is a leader, a man who understands our culture”, there followed scorn, laughter and comments on polygamy and showering.

Further prompts encouraged participants to abandon this tone, to no avail. Both this project and others confirm that voters separate their opinions of the president from their willingness to vote ANC (at least at the time, in 2014).

Zuma has nevertheless carved a safe personal net with many South Africans, especially those also of Zulu origins. Little had the Mandela-Mbeki axis of the 1990s imagined that their deployment of Zuma to get peace in the war fields of KwaZulu-Natal (and bring the province into the national post-liberation ANC) would have the repercussions it did. They helped create the platform on which Zuma would rise into power.

The ANC KwaZulu-Natal as electoral giant awoke late, and then sustained the ANC when it started declining in other provinces. Without the KwaZulu-Natal performance in the national elections of 2009 and 2014 (largely facilitated by Zuma) the ANC would have looked pitiful even if still winning.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Join Susan Booysen and Judith February for the Launch of Dominance and Decline at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma

 
Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of ZumaWits Press and The Book Lounge would like to invite you to the launch of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen.

The author will be discussing her book and the question of whether or not the ANC will recover after Jacob Zuma’s reign with Judith February, senior research associate at the Institute for Security Studies.

The event will take place at The Book Lounge at 5:30 for 6 PM on Tuesday, 24 November.

See you there!

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Join Susan Booysen and Angelo Fick for the Launch of Dominance and Decline at Exclusive Books Rosebank

Invitation to the launch of Dominance and Decline

 
Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of ZumaWits Press and Exclusive Books Rosebank Mall would like to invite you to the launch of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen.

In Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma, Booysen shows how the ANC has become centred on the personage of Zuma, and that its defence of his extremely flawed leadership undermines the party’s capacity to govern competently, and to protect its long-term future.

The event will take place on Tuesday, 17 November, at 5:30 for 6 PM at Exclusive Books Rosebank Mall. The author will be in conversation with Angelo Fick, commentator for eNCA.

Don’t miss it!

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Will the ANC Recover from Jacob Zuma’s Reign? Susan Booysen Considers the Question in Dominance and Decline

Dominance and DeclineAs Jacob Zuma moves into the twilight years of his presidencies of both the African National Congress (ANC) and of South Africa, Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen takes stock of the Zuma-led administration and its impact on the ANC.

“There is no shortage of books about the modern ANC. However this one provides evidence-based answers to two key questions that are frequently asked but seldom answered persuasively. The questions are: what is the current basis of the ANC’s support and how likely is this support to endure?”Tom Lodge, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick, Ireland

Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma combines hard-hitting arguments with astute analysis. Booysen shows how the ANC has become centred on the personage of Zuma, and that its defence of his extremely flawed leadership undermines the party’s capacity to govern competently, and to protect its long term future.

Following on from her first book, The African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power (2011), Booysen delves deeper into the four faces of power that characterise the ANC. Her principal argument is that the state is failing as the president’s interests increasingly supersede those of party and state.

Organisationally, the ANC has become a hegemon riven by factions, as the internal blocs battle for core positions of power and control. Meanwhile, the Zuma-controlled ANC has witnessed the implosion of the tripartite alliance and decimation of its youth, women’s and veterans’ leagues. Electorally, the leading party has been ceding ground to increasingly assertive opposition parties. And on the policy front, it is faltering through poor implementation and a regurgitation of old ideas. As Zuma’s replacements start competing and succession politics takes shape, Booysen considers whether the ANC will recover from the damage wrought under Zuma’s reign and attain its former glory. Ultimately, she believes that while the damage is irrevocable, the electorate may still reward the ANC for transcending the Zuma years.

This is a must-have reference book on the development of the modern ANC. With rigour and incisiveness, Booysen offers scholars and researchers a coherent framework for considering future patterns in the ANC and its hold on political power.

About the author

Susan Booysen is a political analyst and commentator, and is based at Wits University’s Graduate School of Public and Development Management (P&DM). She is the author of the best-selling political analysis, The African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power (2011), and writes a regular column for the Sunday Independent.

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“For Any Service, You Must Pay” – Deliwe Mzobe, Spokesperson for Wits Outsourced Workers (Podcast)

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionRewolusie op ysInguqukombuso YeNingizimu Afrika Eyabondwa YashiywaNtwa ya Boitseko e Fanyehuweng ya Afrika Borwa

 
The University of the Witwatersrand has agreed to stop outsourcing. This concession came after weeks of student protests.

Deliwe Mzobe, spokesperson for the outsourced workers at Wits University, recently spoke to John Robbie about the agreement reached at Wits, and the continuing protests at the the University of Johannesburg.

Mzobe says that their is a lack of trust of the unions among workers, which is complicating the process of reaching an agreement.

“For any service, you have to pay for it,” Mzobe says explaining the importance of establishing acceptable remuneration and working conditions for workers. She says it is a battle that has been fought for the last 15 years.

Adam Habib’s office released a statement last week listing the agreements reached after engagement with outsourced workers’ representatives as well as students.

Read the statement:

1. Wits agrees to insourcing in principle.
2. A commission to be constituted by all stakeholders will be established by 6 November to determine the details of how insourcing will be implemented in a way that ensures sustainability of the University.

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Wits reaches agreement with students on outsourcing

RDM News Wire, 1 November, 2015

Outsourcing was one of the contentious issues raised by students in their demands to the university.

In a statement on Sunday‚ Professor Tawana Kupe‚ the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for Transformation‚ HR and Advancement‚ said that following two days of engagement with the representatives of outsourced workers and students‚ the university had agreed in principle to insourcing.

He said a commission would be established to determine the details of how insourcing could be undertaken in a financially sustainable manner.

“In the upcoming week‚ the workers’ representatives‚ students‚ academics and management will determine who will serve on the commission. The representatives will report on the progress of establishing the commission on 6 November 2015‚” Prof Kupe said.

He added that in terms of the agreement‚ the Commission would negotiate the contents of a proposed Workers Charter; a Memorandum of Understanding on the way forward would be drafted; and the children of outsourced workers who qualified to study at Wits‚ would receive financial aid from the university.

The R1‚500 examination supplementary fee would also be waived.

Moreover‚ qualifying‚ financially-stressed final year students in 2015 who owed R15‚000 or less‚ would not be required to pay this amount in order to graduate‚ as this might prevent them from finding a job.

“It is proposed that the examination period be postponed for one week. It will run from 9 November 2015 to 4 December 2015. This is subject to approval from Senate‚ the highest academic decision-making body of the University.

“The University is of the view that through engagement with various stakeholder groups‚ we have reached a point of unification that will allow the University to return to normality with a focus on the examinations for the remainder of the year‚” Prof Kupe concluded.
 

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