The African National Congress, the liberation party – ruling South Africa since 1994 – when the country elected its first post-apartheid government under the great Nelson Mandela. Almost two decades have passed since the end of legalised racial segregation in South Africa, yet the abolition of apartheid remains the biggest legacy of Nelson Mandela. The 1993 assassination of ANC figurehead Chris Hani by right-wing white extremists heightened fears that the country was destined for a racial blood bath, but Mandela issued an appeal:
Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for the freedom of all of us.
In his inauguration speech in 1994, Mandela heralded the country’s re-entry onto the world stage, saying it should become a rainbow nation that would never again be seen as the skunk of the world. Mandela’s biggest influence on the new South Africa was his personal determination that anger over the crimes of the past, including his 27 years as a political prisoner, should not motivate future laws and actions.
Yet President Jacob Zuma’s government have taken an authoritarian and corrupt turn- at the very moment the country needs bold and honest leadership. Weak governance is preventing it from making critical policy choices and public investments to improve social welfare and realise Mandela’s dream of a multiracial “Rainbow nation.” It is also undercutting South Africa’s capacity to lead both in Africa and on the global stage.