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South Africa's Suspended Revolution

Hopes and Prospects

By Adam Habib

Publication Year: 2013

South Africa’s Suspended Revolution tells the story of South Africa’s democratic transition and the prospects for the country to develop a truly inclusive political system. Beginning with an account of the transition in the leadership of the African National Congress from Thabo Mbeki to Jacob Zuma, the book then broadens its lens to examine the relationship of South Africa’s political elite to its citizens. It also examines the evolution of economic and social policies through the democratic transition, as well as the development of a postapartheid business community and a foreign policy designed to re-engage South Africa with the world community.

Written by one of South Africa’s leading scholars and political commentators, the book combines historical and contemporary analysis with strategies for an alternative political agenda. Adam Habib connects the lessons of the South African experience with theories of democratic transition, social change, and conflict resolution. Political leaders, scholars, students, and activists will all find material here to deepen their understanding of the challenges and opportunities of contemporary South Africa.

Published by: Ohio University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book has long been in the making. I have been meaning to write it for over a decade but work pressures, new jobs, alternative research projects, and deferred sabbaticals all conspired against it. So, when the opportunity for a sabbatical emerged at the end of my first term as deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Johannesburg, I had...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-34

South Africa is in the midst of a high-stakes leadership drama that has been underway for some years. The stage is the South African state, including its national departments and ministries, provincial governments and local municipalities. It is a drama that has pitted comrade against comrade, and the ensuing battle has led to friends...

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2. Governance, political accountability and service delivery

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pp. 35-72

There was little that united South Africans at the dawn of their democratic transition, but if there was anything – other than the desire to avert a civil war – it would have been a yearning for political accountability and service delivery. South Africans may have meant different things by these terms, but there was nevertheless a general...

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3. The political economy of development

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pp. 73-110

Economic policy has never been simply a technical, neutral exercise devised by impartial bureaucrats, and, in the modern world, the relationship between politics and economics has become ever more apparent and explicit. The nature of economic policy is determined by political variables and economic interests influence state priorities...

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4. The viability of a sustainable social pact

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pp. 111-138

Social pacts have become a mantra of South Africa’s political transition. Ever since the notion was mooted by Geoff Schreiner (1991; 1994) and Adrienne Bird (Bird and Schreiner, 1992), who were then senior officials in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the idea of a social pact has appealed...

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5. The evolution of state–civil society relations

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pp. 139-166

Two very different visions permeate public discourse on state– civil society relations in South Africa. The first is well illustrated by the words of Zola Skweyiya who, when he was minister of social development, responded to a question about government’s expectation of NGOs as follows: ...

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6. South Africa and the world

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pp. 167-200

South Africa has served two terms as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. On both occasions its tenure was plagued by controversy. In the first term (2007–2008), human rights activists were demoralised by what they interpreted as the country’s defence of ‘rogue powers’, when South Africa refused to...

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7. What is to be done?

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pp. 201-224

The title of this chapter, essentially that of Vladimir Lenin’s (1902) famous essay, may seem pretentious but it is merely meant to indicate that the analysis of the preceding pages need not discourage leaders and activists from working towards the construction of a better society. This chapter defines the contours of an alternative...

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8. Reinterpreting democratic anddevelopment experiences

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pp. 225-246

It is a common assumption that Africa’s democratic and developmental experiences hold very few lessons for the rest of the world. For example, Anthony Butler, in the introduction to the second edition of his book, Contemporary South Africa, suggests that ‘African democratization … generated no fundamental

Frequently used acronyms and abbreviations

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pp. 247-248


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pp. 249-264


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pp. 265-290


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pp. 291-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444771
E-ISBN-10: 0821444778
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821420720
Print-ISBN-10: 0821420720

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 858861660
MUSE Marc Record: Download for South Africa's Suspended Revolution

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Democratization -- South Africa.
  • Civil society -- South Africa.
  • Post-apartheid era -- South Africa.
  • Economic development -- South Africa.
  • South Africa -- Economic policy.
  • South Africa -- Politics and government -- 1994-.
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