The report on the situation in South Africa made by William Shoki in his op-ed in the New York Times paints a pretty discouraging picture of conditions there:
In fact, the events of the past weeks have demonstrated a bleak truth about the country. The deep rot of South Africa’s social and political order — rife with racial tension, communal mistrust, injustice and corruption — is now on full display. The rainbow nation, supposed beacon of reconciliation, is falling apart.
At the heart of the discord is the ruling African National Congress. In the 27 years since it steered South Africa to democracy, it has carried the hopes of millions of South Africans. Drawing on its reputation as the party of liberation, it has strong support and remains electorally unassailable. But it has now become squarely a source of division. A devastating battle for its soul is underway, with the country as the battlefield.
The riots there last week have been the worst in decades, basically since the end of apartheid. He concludes:
An uneasy calm has settled. How long it lasts is anyone’s guess. Yet the past few weeks have conclusively dispelled many illusions about the country, none more so than the myth of South African exceptionalism — of a South Africa more peaceful than its African neighbors, more developed and with a future that bends inevitably toward good and triumph. The reality, as we await the next outbreak of violence, is much uglier.
A few observations. The seriousness of instability in South Africa can hardly be overstated. There aren’t a lot of functioning economies in sub-Saharan Africa. The closest things may be Mauritius (barely African), Equatorial Guinea (oil rich), Botswana, and South Africa. Civil disorder in South Africa could be very bloody and might devolve into race war.
A South Africa going the way of Zimbabwe would be good for no one other than the ruling elite which is largely what the present disorder is about.
The weak opposition parties tend to be market-friendly. No wonder Mr. Shoki, no supporter of a market economy, is discouraged.
Finally, I recognize that we’re not talking about Nigeria but South Africa. Somehow the title of this post fits.