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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

100_0944[Source: by Jessica Eaton.]

This time last year, on the eve of South Africa’s 20th anniversary of the first multiracial democratic elections, Nelson Mandela lay sick in the hospital as the country mourned—not only the imminent passing of the nation’s father but also for the sad state of the nation itself.

It was about that time when Mamphela Ramphele launched Agang—a much-needed political alternative to the incumbent African National Congress. Ms. Ramphele—anti-apartheid stalwart, medical doctor, successful business executive and former managing director of the World Bank—seemed like the perfect person to challenge the corrupt and complacent ANC. In fact, her platform was so promising that the media and the international community enthusiastically backed her candidacy, while the country’s main opposition group offered to merge with her nascent party.

On Tuesday, however, the hype surrounding Ms. Ramphele and Agang came to an end when she announced she would be quitting politics for good. For many South Africans the declaration only made official what the May election results had clearly demonstrated—her party won only two seats in the 400-person legislature.

“I will therefore be leaving party politics, having accomplished my aim of creating a political vehicle to enable those who remain outside the political mainstream to have a voice,” she declared.

Unfortunately, the only non-mainstream voice that is sure to get louder thanks to Ms. Ramphele’s departure from politics is Julius Malema’s. Mr. Malema is president of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a fledgling party that recently finished third in the national elections with 6.4% of the vote, giving it 25 seats in legislature.

Last week, members of the EFF were forcefully removed from the provincial legislature after they refused to remove their trademark red overalls and domestic workers’ uniforms, symbols of their radical communist agenda. In response to the speaker’s dismissal of his men, Malema launched into a predictably furious racist rant. “To you proper is white, to you proper is European. We are not white. We are defying colonialist decorum. We are not English-made. We are workers, and we are going to wear those clothes and we are unapologetic about it.”

It seems South Africans should be even more concerned about the state of their democracy this year.

South Africa at a Glance
58 780 000 (mid 2019 estimate)
3.7% y/y in October 2019 (CPI) & +4.1 y/y in September 2019 (PPI)
3.1% q/q (2nd quarter of 2019)
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