What will a Zuma presidency mean for the country?
He is a more charismatic and likeable figure than his technocratic nemesis, former President Thabo Mbeki. He will be a more inclusive leader, more accessible to ordinary South Africans.
When it comes to policy, however, Zuma is something of a blank slate, and has exhibited little interest in the detail of governance. He often tells interest groups exactly what they want to hear, even if, as in the case of business and the labor movement, his utterances to each are polar opposites. In order to succeed, Zuma will have to be more decisive in addressing the significant challenges that
There is greater inequality in the
Zuma is not well placed to lead the moral and institutional renewal the country desperately needs. He has been embroiled in allegations of corruption linked to the deal and has undermined the judiciary, investigative bodies and the prosecutorial authorities in his attempts to get off the hook. The director of prosecutions recently dropped the charges against Zuma in a controversial decision that was the result of immense political pressure. The decision is being contested in court. More worryingly, Zuma has attacked the judiciary, suggesting recently that the status and functioning of the country’s highest court should be reviewed. Parliament, which is constitutionally bound to hold the executive to account, will continue to be little more than a rubber stamp for the ruling party.
It will be crucial to the success or failure of the new administration whether Jacob Zuma fills key government posts with his own, largely mediocre, confidantes or is prepared to draw on the wider talents within the ANC. Some fear that his supporters see his election as an opportunity to feed at the trough from which they were excluded during the Mbeki years.
The only insurance against a regime of patronage and mediocrity is the vigor and independence of the constitutional checks and balances. The country’s vibrant civil society has a vital role to play, as do the battered opposition parties, which will hopefully contemplate joining forces to create a more vibrant nonracial challenge to the dominant ANC.
Andrew Feinstein is a former ANC member of parliament and author of After the Party: Corruption, the ANC and
More about the book…
The first-ever insider’s exposé of the African National Congress
AFTER THE PARTY
Corruption, the ANC and
by Andrew Feinstein
"This important and brave book illustrates the extent to which
A respected media commentator and former member of parliament for the African National Congress, Feinstein details the inner workings of the party that has ruled
The definitive book on the state of the ANC and the future of South African politics, After the Party tells the story behind the power struggles currently keeping
About the Author:
Andrew Feinstein is a former ANC MP. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Newsweek, among others, and is a regular commentator on CNN. He lives in
AFTER THE PARTY: Corruption, the ANC and South Africa’s Uncertain Future
by Andrew Feinstein
Verso Books, distributed by W.W. Norton
Publication date: April 17, 2009
Price: $26.95 HC, 301p.