South Africa’s democracy
The hollow state
South Africa’s democratic institutions are battered. But as long as
the courts can uphold the law there is hope that other arms of
government can regain their vigour under a new and (with luck) more
democratically minded president. In next year’s local elections the ANC
is likely to lose its majority in most of the big cities, including
Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth, to the DA (which won 22% of
the national vote in 2014) and a newer party, the populist Economic
Freedom Fighters (EFF), which won 6%. Mr Zuma will probably hang onto
power until his second and final term expires in 2019, unless a crisis
prompts the ANC to replace him with his able deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.
The challenge for democrats will be to protect the independence of
the courts and what remains of other institutions. Mr Zuma has shown an
inclination to wreck them. Unless checked, the danger is that when he
goes he will leave only the husk of a democracy behind.