Student protests and the crisis of South African democracy


#FeesMustFall protest in Pretoria, 23 October 2015. Photo: Paul Saad

Click here for our analysis in the Boston Review of the 2015 student protests  in South Africa. We describe the events as one symptom of the deep crisis of the post-apartheid order. We also consider possible future scenarios in what promises to be a hot year for South African politics.

This work is part of my ongoing research in collaboration with Ayanda Manqoyi from UCT. We are grateful to Boston Review managing editor Adam McGee for the excellent editorial work.

Here is an extract:

“The vast majority of black South Africans and other historically disadvantaged groups continue to be excluded from the centers of economic wealth and political power. Whites hold on to their privileged economic position, in alliance with a tiny black elite that controls the government, having benefited from limited ownership transfer deals in the private sector. Majority ownership in mining and other key economic sectors remains in the hands of local whites and investors from Western countries.

Most blacks are de facto segregated in areas that suffer from structural disadvantage and widespread poverty. Moreover, those black citizens living and working in privileged areas still experience the dehumanizing effects of racism. …

It is with a keen awareness of this context that the word ‘decolonization’ has been embraced by some student leaders to contextualize their activism as a facet of a broader strategy to dismantle white privilege in the country.”

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