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South Africa - The Present as History

South Africa - The Present as History: From Mrs Ples to Mandela and Marikana

John S. Saul
Patrick Bond
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 302
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    South Africa - The Present as History
    Book Description:

    In 1994, the first non-racial elections in South Africa brought Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress to office; elections since have confirmed the ANC's hold, both popular and legitimate, on power. Yet, at the same time, South Africa has one of the highest rates of protest and dissent in the world - underscored by the police shooting of 34 striking miners at Marikana in 2012 - regions of deep poverty and environmental degradation, rising inequality and high unemployment rates. This book looks at this paradox by examining the precise character of the post-apartheid state, and the roots of the hope that something better than the semi-liberation that the ANC has presided over must not be long delayed - both within the ANC itself and within the broader society of South Africa. The authors present a history of South Africa from earliest times, with today's post-apartheid society interpreted andunderstood in the context of and through the lens of its earlier history. Following the introduction, which offers an analytical background to the narrative that follows, they track the course of South African history: from its origins to apartheid in the 1970; through the crisis and transition of the 1970s and 1980s to the historic deal-making of 1994 that ended apartheid; to its recent history from Mandela to Marikana, with increasing signs of social unrest and class conflict. Finally, the authors reflect on the present situation in South Africa with reference to the historical patterns that have shaped contemporary realities and the possibility of a 'next liberation struggle'.BR> John S. Saul is Professor Emeritus at York University (Canada). Patrick Bond is Senior Professor of Development Studies and Director of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban).

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-243-3
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction: South Africa in History
    (pp. 1-12)

    The late-twentieth century’s most obvious historical anomaly, the ‘legalized’ form of racial oppression that was apartheid, remained for many decades an on-going challenge to both activists and analysts engaged in the project of realizing social justice – knowing all the while that this deeply inequitable system should change, could change, would change, but not knowing when it would change, or how, or by whose efforts. Nonetheless, by the end of the new millennium’s first decade, we had in fact witnessed South Africa’s negotiated realization of a new colour-blind democratic constitution as well as several elections on this new roughly open and...

  4. Part I What’s Past is Prologue:: From the Beginnings to 1994

    • 1. The Making of South Africa ... and Apartheid, to 1970
      (pp. 15-62)
      JOHN S. SAUL

      Across the complex landscape of the southern part of the African continent, human beings have carved a conflictual history, one that in the last several hundred years has witnessed particularly dramatic scenes: heroic accomplishments set against cruel examples – the apartheid system itself being the principal case in point – of ‘man’s inhumanity to man [sic]’. The present chapter will sketch this experience, tracing the long arc of history of those peoples who would ultimately form the citizenry of present-day South Africa. It must be borne in mind, however, that for much of the period covered in this chapter, the lines on...

    • 2. The Transition: The Players Assemble, 1970–1990
      (pp. 63-120)
      JOHN S. SAUL

      The present chapter, and the briefer but complementary one that follows it, tell a complex story. On the one hand, they chart the slow but ineluctable struggle on the part of the vast majority of the population, who were, by and large, not white, to overcome the cruel ‘pigmentocracy’ – as finally epitomized by the apartheid regime – that had come to dominate their lives and stunt their human potential. At the same time, however, the enemies of promise were many more than those embedded in the fact of racial rule itself. For, as seen in the previous chapter, there was also,...

    • 3. The Apartheid Endgame, 1990–1994
      (pp. 121-142)
      JOHN S. SAUL

      On the one hand, as we have seen, capital (both local and global) was increasingly on side, its conviction growing that the ANC was the one force that could actually deliver an insurgent population to acceptance of a deal quite unthreatening in substance both to capital as well as to those whites who were securely lodged in the upper strata of society. On the other hand, however, there was the insurgent proletariat and precariat (as represented, notably, by COSATU and the UDF): yet they too were being brought, slowly but surely, to heel by the ANC – the rank and file...

  5. Part II The Present as History:: Post-Apartheid and Post-1994

    • 4. Contradictions Subside then Deepen: Accumulation and Class Conflict, 1994–2000
      (pp. 145-175)

      South Africa won its democracy in 1994. But in far too many respects, it has been a ‘choiceless democracy’ in socio-economic policy terms and more broadly a ‘low-intensity democracy’, to borrow terms coined respectively by Thandika Mkandawire for Africa, and by Barry Gills and Joel Rocamora for many ex-dictatorships.² The self-imposition of economic and development policies – typically at the behest of financial markets and the Washington/Geneva multilateral institutions – required an extraordinary insulation from genuine national determinations: in short, an ‘elite transition’.³ This insulation of policy from democracy was facilitated by invoking the mantra of seeking ‘international competitiveness’, and initially peaked...

    • 5. Consolidating the Contradictions: From Mandela to Marikana, 2000–2012
      (pp. 176-210)

      The evolution of the South African state and society in the early twenty-first century confirmed the more pessimistic predictions: neo-liberalism would fail, thus leading to systemic corruption (sometimes termed neo-patrimonialism), followed by open ruptures thanks to extreme inequality, unemployment and low pay in varied communities and workplaces. The Marikana massacre on August 16, 2012, reflected these trends, as the next chapter reports. However, the story would have been yet more grim if, during the dozen years after 2000, Pretoria had not adopted what we can characterize as ‘tokenistic welfarism’ in several social policy innovations. Most important was a victory won...

  6. Part III Conclusions:: The Future as History

    • 6. Uneven and Combined Resistance: Marikana and The Trail to ‘Tunisia Day’ 2020
      (pp. 213-242)

      The prior two chapters showed how the wholehearted embrace of neo-liberalism by the African National Congress from the early 1990s left the economy especially fragile, reliant upon asset bubbles and subject to capital flight at the first sign of trouble. Although from 1993–2008 there was technical GDP growth each year, it was terribly stilted. Although South Africa technically began recovering from formal recession in late 2009, this did not reverse the economic rot: i.e., the rise of mass unemployment, further property market turmoil, manufacturing stagnation, a severe credit squeeze and a return to dangerous current account deficits (as the...

    • 7. Liberating Liberation: The Struggle against Recolonization in South Africa
      (pp. 243-270)
      JOHN S. SAUL

      From the vantage point of the troubled present, my conclusion highlights within South Africa’s history both the rise of the ANC’s mission of liberation and the disappointing and anti-climactic outcome that has followed from the ANC’s ‘victory’. But it also seeks to register the complex cross-currents of the present moment and the still somewhat hesitant signs that some novel brand of post- ANC, counter-hegemonic, political expression may be beginning to emerge in South Africa – one that could in time displace the present ANC government itself and do so for the better. With the echoes of the recent and starkly sobering...

  7. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-286)
  8. Index
    (pp. 287-302)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-303)