A week is a long time in politics

A week in politics is more than a long time, sometimes: it can mark the beginning or the end of an era. It is hard to believe that it was just this time last week that the man who sold his country, former president Jacob Zuma, was flatly refusing to step down from office. By Friday, in the State of the Nation address, a new man, President Cyril Ramaphosa, was resetting the tone for the nation, and Zuma was toast. Those who had depended on Zuma’s favours, who had enabled his vices, who had grown fat and arrogant along with him, those whose dumb stupidity was enough to entitle them to high office, have looks on their faces these days of utter bewilderment as South Africans, with justifiable schadenfreude, await their fall from office and the day of reckoning. Ramaphosa’s speech on Friday rose to the moment: he spoke of renewal, of hope, of the civic virtues; he put bad

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South Africa in the news

For our overseas family and friends: South Africa is in the news again, and for all the wrong reasons. President Jacob Zuma’s “night of the long knives,” in which he purged a third of his cabinet, including the respected finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and Gordhan’s deputy, Jonas Mncebisi,  has caused consternation and a growing backlash, not least amongst members of his own party. The country’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has spoken out openly against the decision, as has the party’s Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe. The South African Communist Party, which is in alliance with the ANC and has a number of ministers in Zuma’s cabinet, called on Friday for the President’s resignation. What happens over the next few days and weeks is likely to have long-term repercussions, and consequences for the ANC at the 2019 elections. The project that has brought me back to South Africa from Canada is housed in the Government Technical Advisory Centre, a component of Treasury. Everyone we

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