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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Daily Maverick by Stephen Grootes.]

For South Africans who have become so cynical over the last few years that they have lost faith in the criminal justice system, or justice whatsoever, the last week has served as mere confirmation of their view. The case around Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana, who has admitted to assaulting a woman at a nightclub, appears to prove that a class of people have been created who are able to act as if they are above the law because they are in fact de facto above the law. He is not the only person who behaves this way, but the first to get caught on camera in such a way that journalists can drop the word “allegedly” from their reports. The reaction to his non-arrest, and then the gestures of support for him, reveal exactly how our political system has created a legally connected upper class, the people who assume they really are above the rest of us.

It is important to start with this point. If someone ever tries to convince you that in fact the law has treated Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana in the same way that it would have treated anyone else, ask them this question: What would have happened if a man whose identity and location was known had been caught on camera attacking a deputy minister in the same way that Manana attacked this woman? That should be the end of their argument, and justify your view that Manana has been treated differently.

One of the reasons that so many urban middle-class people have reacted so angrily to this is not just that the evidence was caught on video – it’s that Manana is of a relatively low rank in the ANC policy class. He is a deputy minister about whom most people would not have heard of before this incident. He was given the position by President Jacob Zuma as a reward for standing up to Julius Malema back when he was still in charge of the ANC Youth League. This means that he is unlikely to have much of a constituency of his own, and is one of those figures who is purely dependent on Zuma’s political patronage. And patronage it must be. What, you have to ask yourself, does a Deputy Minister of Higher Education do anyway? It’s a ministry that was considered superfluous until 2009, and was possibly created entirely with Blade Nzimande in mind.

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.4% y/y in April 2019 (CPI) & +6.5 y/y in April 2019 (PPI)
-3.2% q/q (1st quarter of 2019)
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