The Betrayal of Mandela’s Promise

21 August 2015

Twenty two years ago, in December 1993, representatives of the vast majority of South Africa’s people and communities reached a historic agreement to establish a non racial constitutional democracy, writes former South African President FW De Klerk.

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The new democracy would be dedicated to human dignity, the achievement of equality, and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.

It was the nation’s proudest moment. People were able to overcome centuries of conflict, fear and injustice through rational negotiation and compromise. What South Africans did was regarded by the world as a miracle—and as an example for the resolution of conflict everywhere.

Under the exemplary leadership of Nelson Mandela we started to lay the foundations of a rainbow nation. South Africa assumed a position of respect and influence in the international community.

Mandela’s successor in 1999, President Thabo Mbeki,implemented policies that achieved growth levels of more than 5% in 2005-07; that reduced the country’s national debt to only 23% of GDP from 46% in 1994.

Yet these policies were unacceptable to the ruling partners of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party and the Cosatu trade union federation.

Together with other factions, they captured control of the ANC at its national conference in the north eastern city of Polokwane in December 2007.

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They ousted Mr. Mbeki from party leadership and ensured that Jacob Zuma—with his powerful Zulu base—would be elected as president of the ANC, and ultimately as president of the country.

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With the abandonment of Mr. Mbeki’s economic policies, we have failed to achieve the high growth levels that we need to combat unemployment and inequality.

The government has repeatedly interfered with the National Prosecuting Authority in attempts to protect President Zuma against prosecution for 783 outstanding fraud charges, which Mr. Zuma has denied.

The Scorpions, a successful anticorruption investigative unit, was disbanded in 2008. This opened the way to rampant corruption at all levels of government.

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