Precarious Power

Compliance and discontent under Ramaphosa’s ANC
Author(s):
  • Publication Date: February 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156mm Extent: 328pp; 6 B&W drawings
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-645-1
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-647-5
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-646-8
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 350.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 30.00

Relying on a diversity of sources including direct observation of local settings, adept
interpretation of opinion polling, shrewd deciphering of party paperwork and a battery of
informant testimony, Susan Booysen deploys her unique skill-set to tell a story that is both
analytically incisive and narratively thrilling. This is an instant classic that will shape the
political science field for decades.
—Tom Lodge, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Department of Politics and Public
Administration, University of Limerick

… an important contribution to understanding the changing character of ANC politics, civic
discontent and weaknesses in the system of governance, post-Zuma.
— Mzukisi Qobo, Director and Head, Wits School of Governance, University of the
Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Few people in South Africa understand the ANC and political power better than Susan
Booysen. In this third volume dissecting the governing party, she presents a carefully
researched and thoughtful work that never avoids complexity, yet remains accessible.
— Judith February, author and columnist

 

What happens when a former liberation movement turned political party loses its dominance but survives because no opposition party is able to succeed it? The trends are established: South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) is in decline. Its hegemony has been weakened, its legitimacy diluted. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment suspended the ANC’s electoral decline, but it also heightened internal organisational tensions between those who would deepen its corrupt and captured status, and those who would redeem it. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened its fragility, and the state’s inability to manage the socio-economic devastation has aggravated prior faultlines. These are the undeniable knowns of South African politics; what will evolve from this is less certain.

In her latest book Precarious Power Susan Booyen delves deep into this political terrain and its trajectory for South Africa’s future. She covers an expansive range of topics, from contradictory party politics and dissent that is veiled in order to retain electoral following, to populist policy-making and the use of soft law enforcement to ensure that angry citizens do not become further alienated. Booysen’s analysis reveals Ramaphosa to be a president who is weak and walking a tightrope between serving the needs of the organisation and those of the nation. While he rose to the challenge of being a national leader during the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis has highlighted existing inequalities in South Africa and discontent has grown. The ANC’s power has indeed become exceedingly precarious, and this seems unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

This incisive analysis of ANC power – as party, as government, as state – will appeal not only to political scientists but to all who take a keen interest in current affairs.

Tables and figures
Acronyms and abbreviations
Chapter 1 The ANC and Precarious Power
Chapter 2 Shootouts below the Shroud of ANC Unity
Chapter 3 Boosted Election Victory, Porous Power
Chapter 4 Presidency of Hope, Shadows and Strategic Allusion
Chapter 5 Courts and Commissions: Crutches amidst Self-Annihilation
Chapter 6 Reconstituting the Limping State
Chapter 7 Parallelism, Populism and Proxy as Tools in Public Policy Wars
Chapter 8 Protest as Parallel Policy-Making and Governance
Chapter 9 Parallel Power, Losing Power and Staying in Power
Select references
Index

Susan Booysen is a political analyst and commentator. She is professor emeritus at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and visiting professor at the Wits School of Governance. She is author of The ANC and the Regeneration of Political Power (2011) and Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma (2015).

Relying on a diversity of sources including direct observation of local settings, adept
interpretation of opinion polling, shrewd deciphering of party paperwork and a battery of
informant testimony, Susan Booysen deploys her unique skill-set to tell a story that is both
analytically incisive and narratively thrilling. This is an instant classic that will shape the
political science field for decades.
—Tom Lodge, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Department of Politics and Public
Administration, University of Limerick

… an important contribution to understanding the changing character of ANC politics, civic
discontent and weaknesses in the system of governance, post-Zuma.
— Mzukisi Qobo, Director and Head, Wits School of Governance, University of the
Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Few people in South Africa understand the ANC and political power better than Susan
Booysen. In this third volume dissecting the governing party, she presents a carefully
researched and thoughtful work that never avoids complexity, yet remains accessible.
— Judith February, author and columnist

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