- This month South Africa will have a rare opportunity to break away from the difficult political legacy of corruption and governance failures that have blighted its post-apartheid years. At a conference during December 16-20, the African National Congress will pick its candidate for party leader, and that person will go on to replace 10-year incumbent President Jacob Zuma.
- Whoever Mr. Zuma hands over the reins of power to will be the favourite to become the country’s next President in 2019. But he or she will also inherit a troubled political system and a nervous, gloomy economy. Steadily rising unemployment, now nearly touching 28%, has been the chief characteristic of what some describe as Mr. Zuma’s “scandal-ridden decade” at the helm of the ANC. This has been, by most accounts, a period during which allegations of grand corruption and cronyism multiplied exponentially. Promising to root out this pervasive rot in institutional quality is one of two leading candidates: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a policy centrist and firm member of the party’s constitutionalist wing. The other serious candidate in the reckoning is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Mr. Zuma’s ex-wife, who was a minister across several cabinets and chair of the African Union.
- Ms. Dlamini-Zuma, if she prevails, is expected to muddy the prospects of any investigation into alleged murky financial dealings between Mr. Zuma’s son and three brothers of the wealthy, Indian-origin Gupta family of South Africa, owners of a massive business conglomerate that controls stakes in the computer equipment, media and mining industries. She is also expected to be the candidate of continuity inasmuch as she will echo Mr. Zuma’s call for “radical economic transformation” and continue policies that are ostensibly aimed at redistributing control of resources to the nation’s relatively impoverished black majority. Either way, her nomination will boost the forces of “state capture,” or economic rent-seeking built on the marketisation of the South African state itself. Already, there are 783 counts of corruption relating to a 1999 arms deal pending against Mr. Zuma, yet no charges have been pressed. Similarly, despite reams of evidence against the Guptas in a report by a former Public Protector, no enforcement action has been forthcoming. According to Pravin Gordhan, who was fired as Finance Minister in March 2017, about $15 billion “has been looted” owing to undue influence of private interests over public institutions. Yet even if Mr. Ramaphosa triumphs at the party conclave, the troubles of the ANC may be far from over. With its overall popularity sliding, the party will have to work hard to bring in the next generation of leaders, with a greater political stature, if it wishes to realise a greater collective destiny for South Africa.
Legacy: an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.
Example: Bentham tells the family that they are about to inherit a legacy from a relative.
Synonyms: bequest, inheritance, heritage, endowment, gift, patrimony
Blight: infect plants or a planted area with blight.
Example: A peach tree blighted by leaf curl
Synonyms: infect, mildew, kill, destroy
Inherit: receive money, property, or a title as an heir at the death of the previous holder.
Example: She inherited a fortune from her father
Synonyms: become heir to, come into/by, be bequeathed, be left, be willed
Nervous: easily agitated or alarmed.
Example: A sensitive, nervous person
Synonyms: high-strung, anxious, edgy, tense, excitable, jumpy, skittish
Gloomy: dark or poorly lit, especially so as to appear depressing or frightening.
Example: A gloomy corridor
Synonyms: dark, shadowy, sunless, dim, somber, dingy, dismal, dreary
Helm: a tiller or wheel and any associated equipment for steering a ship or boat.
Example: She stayed at the helm, alert for tankers
Synonyms: tiller, wheel, steering gear, rudder
Cronyism: the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications.
Example: This is a government for the insiders, for political appointments and cronyism
Pervasive: spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people.
Example: Ageism is pervasive and entrenched in our society
Synonyms: prevalent, pervading, permeating, extensive, ubiquitous, omnipresent
Reckon: establish by counting or calculation.
Example: His debts were reckoned at $300,000
Synonyms: calculate, compute, peg, work out, put a figure on, figure
Conglomerate: gather together into a compact mass.
Example: Atoms that conglomerate at the center
Synonyms: coalesce, unite, join, combine, merge, fuse, consolidate
Ostensibly: apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually.
Example: Portrayed as a blue-collar type, ostensibly a carpenter
Synonyms: apparently, seemingly, on the face of it, to all intents and purposes
Impoverish: make a person or area poor.
Example: They discourage investment and impoverish their people
Synonyms: make poor, make penniless, reduce to penury, bankrupt
Undue: unwarranted or inappropriate because excessive or disproportionate.
Example: This figure did not give rise to undue concern
Synonyms: excessive, immoderate, intemperate, inordinate, disproportionate
Stature: a person’s natural height.
Example: A man of short stature
Synonyms: height, tallness, size, build