from Africa in Transition

South African Icon Disillusioned with Ruling Party Leadership

January 27, 2016

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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On January 24, in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron honored Nelson Mandela’s three surviving co-defendants at the 1964 Rivonia trial. They were Denis Goldberg, Ahmad Kathrada, and Andrew Mlangeni. Cameron also honored their suriviving defense attorneys, Lord Joel Joffe and George Bizos, who succeeded in avoiding the death penalty for their clients, though not twenty-six years of imprisonment.

Goldberg was a member of the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC). At Rivonia, he was convicted of armed resistance to apartheid. Among the ten men convicted at the Rivonia trial, the most famous being Mandela, Goldberg was the only white man.

In a January 24 BBC interview, Goldberg publicly called for the current leaders of the governing ANC to be replaced due to widespread corruption. However, he also cited the huge gains South Africa has made since the coming of “non-racial” democracy in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was sworn-in as president, especially with respect to education, health care, economic growth, and the transformation of the civil service.

Other liberation icons have made the same point. Progress in democratic, non-racial South Africa is real, but in their view the ruling ANC has lost its way, and its leadership must be replaced. Though Goldberg named no names, for many South Africans President Jacob Zuma and his close associates will immediately come to mind.

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Politics and Government

South Africa

Civil Society

Corruption

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