Anybody who has been following the news in recent months knows that bloodshed has returned to South Africa. The recent violence and deaths among strikers in the country’s platinum mining industry resonate strongly in a country with such memories of the last years of apartheid. But they also point to a different reality – that South Africa is now undergoing a crisis of leadership, despite the continued electoral success of the ANC, and a crunch point in its history.
Martin Plaut, the co-author of Who Rules South Africa? (Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2012), is himself a South African who wound up here in London many years ago and then ended up working as Africa Editor in the newsroom of the BBC World Service. He knows the country inside out but is also able to bring a deep level of understanding that comes from his own personal history and experience.
In the book Martin and his co-author examine the roots of the ANC and move on to ask what kind of force it is now, in a South Africa that is itself changing rapidly. On one hand it’s a familiar story – the liberation force that then confronts a whole new array of challenges when it takes power. But on the other it’s one that lurks uncomfortably below the surface of a country that otherwise has so much to shout about, from its success in hosting the last football World Cup to its inclusion in the thrusting BRICS grouping.
The book is sobering, particularly when it deals with questions such as South Africa’s widening inequality, education and economic frustrations. I’d go so far as to say that it is a ‘must read’ for anybody interested in either South Africa or politics and current affairs in modern Africa. Enjoy the interview!
PS: The book is due to be published in the US in 2013, although it’s already available in the UK and worldwide on e-readers.
PPS: Martin’s blog is here and his twitter handle is @martinplaut (my own is @npw99)