In 1977, RW Johnson's best-selling How Long Will South Africa Survive? provided a controversial and highly original analysis of the survival prospects of the apartheid regime. Now, after more than twenty years of ANC rule, he believes the situation has become so critical that the question must be posed again. He moves from an analysis of Jacob Zuma's rule to the increasingly dire state of the South African economy, concluding that the country is heading towards a likely International Monetary Fund bail-out which will in turn lead to a regime change of some kind. Johnson's analysis is strikin.
A collection of essays on the contemporary crisis and change in South Africa which considers the international political position, Afrikaner politics, South African economics, internal Black politics, The United Democratic Front, Black trade unions and constitutional change.
South Africa is awash with policy failures, and policy confusion. We argue firstly, that our current discord over policy details has its origin in the (celebrated) negotiated transition. We hold that the vote count of an 85% majority in the Constituent Assembly in 1996 obscured the reality that the Constitution meant different things to different negotiators. The result was that South Africa, from the very start of the democratic era, lacked a national consensus on how to go about consolidating democracy. We keep on failing to build a proper roof over our democracy because the constitutional foundations are weak.
South Africa's first ever non-racial and multi-party election was perhaps the most significant global event of 1994. From the ashes of a repressive, segregated and racist state emerged - miraculously and relatively free from bloodshed - a new, multi-racial nation, led by one of the political icons of the late twentieth century, Nelson Mandela. Based on a large-scale and non-partisan public information project, this book is the definitive account of the process of democratisation in South Africa. The Launching Democracy project mounted teams of observers and monitored the campaign, party organisation, the media and voter education efforts throughout the crucial and populous areas of the Western Cape, Natal and the Reef. The result is an unparalleled source of information about the way the election really worked and the political sociology of South Africa in general. Written by a team of distinguished experts, the book analyses the results of the election in detail (and publishes them in full for the first time). It examines the intricacies of the disputed electoral process and the drama of the count, revealing irregularities, rivalry and widespread fear and intimidation. In a highly readable final section, the book carries the story into the post-election reality, exploring popular opinion and the demands now facing the Mandela government.
The universal jubilation that greeted Nelson Mandela's inauguration as president of South Africa in 1994 and the process by which the nightmare of apartheid had been banished is one of the most thrilling, hopeful stories in the modern era: peaceful, rational change was possible and, as with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the weight of an oppressive history was suddenly lifted. R.W. Johnson's major new book tells the story of South Africa from that magic period to the bitter disappointment of the present. As it turned out, it was not so easy for South Africa to shake off its past. The profound damage of apartheid meant there was not an adequate educated black middle class to run the new state and apartheid had done great psychological harm too, issues that no amount of goodwill could wish away. Equally damaging were the new leaders, many of whom had lived in exile or in prison for much of their adult lives and who tried to impose decrepit, Eastern Bloc political ideas on a world that had long moved on. This disastrous combination has had a terrible impact - it poisoned everything from big business to education to energy utilities to AIDS policy to relations with Zimbabwe. At the heart of the book lies the ruinous figure of Thabo Mbeki, whose over-reaching ambitions led to catastrophic failure on almost every front. But, as Johnson makes clear, Mbeki may have contributed more than anyone else to bringing South Africa close to "failed state" status, but he had plenty of help.