South Africa: A Mafia State?

By Scott Morgan

One of the most critical voices during the Apartheid era in South Africa has once again raised the alarm over the internal political climate. Yet again they have ample evidence to criticize the ruling party and they should not be ignored.

The South African Council of Churches, which has a long history of being an independent critical voice, recently issued a report which warned that South Africa and its current leadership are close to becoming “A Mafia State”. This allegation was not made lightly by the body either. Recent events show that there is some valid concerns for their positions.

Allegations of Police abuse continue in this new South Africa. The deaths of 34 Miners at Marikana, in Rustenberg in 2012, during a Mining Strike shows that abuse by the police are still a major concern. Especially since postmortems showed that some victims were shot in the back or killed at long range. Earlier this year, when there was a threat of impeachment against current President Jacob Zuma, Police responded with a heavy hand during the protests in Pretoria.

There is a concern of cronyism within the Financial Ministry as well. Family members of the President and close Political allies (Guptas) have had a stranglehold on this ministry. The revolving door regarding the position of Finance Minister and the subsequent incoherent policies have led several foreign institution to downgrade South African Bonds to Junk Status. In the Worldview of the Zuma family this is a great move as they can renegotiate with the Western donors and negotiate new terms with African States and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) bloc.

The Zuma family has had expansionist aims outside the country as well. In 2013, the country sought to present itself as a major player in the African Security sector by sending troops to the Central African Republic, when then President Bozize faced an insurrection by the Seleka Militants. 200 Paratroopers were sent to the country, in January of that year, without adequate Armor or Air support. Thirteen soldiers were killed in an ambush near Bangui. The South African Force was soon withdrawn.

Another area where the Zuma Family has interests in is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. President Zuma, and one of his sons, has substantial financial interests that include the lucrative Oil and Gas plots in the Lake Albert region. The Zumas have not been criticized must regarding these interests.

Could these actions split the ruling Troika within South Africa? Two of the components COSATU (Confederation of South African Trade Unions) and the SACP (South African Communist Party) feel that a change in leadership is warranted. However, President Zuma does maintain wide support among the executive committee of the ruling ANC (African National Congress) until he falls out of favor with them he will retain his position.

Notwithstanding, there are voices for change that want to be heard. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who seeks to become the next President, has stated that he finds these charges worrying. There have been also calls for investigations into these matters...South Africa can benefit from them.

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. In spite of everything, South Africa's political system is much richer and powerful than most in the rest of Africa. Having said this, Zuma will have a hard time to establish a dynasty and let's see how solid are the foundations for his expansionist aims.


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