This is a wide-ranging and trenchant critical account of South Africa since 1994, focusing particularly upon the follies and failures of the ANC government over the past 25 years. It anatomizes an acute social, economic and political crisis, and argues that a series of events – including HIV/AIDS denialism, the Marikana shootings, the Nkandla funding scandal, mass student protests, the Esidimeni health tragedy, systemic corruption and state capture – are rooted in policy choices made by the ANC during negotiations and in power.
This contemporary history is presented within a much wider arc. The author outlines the history of South Africa since the mid-17th century, discussing slavery, colonial rule and dispossession, the mineral revolution, the development of industrial capitalism, and apartheid.
He also reviews the history of the ANC since 1912, emphasizing continuities in the class character of the movement, and the extent to which its political objectives were always compatible with the capitalist order. This meant that the important democratic rights enshrined in the 1996 constitution left untouched the capitalist economic architecture.
The contemporary analysis and the historical background are located within an overview and theoretical analysis of the concept of race and the history, ideologies and practices of racism and racialism. The author assesses the relation of racism to capitalism as a global phenomenon, and the specific forms of systemic racism that developed in South Africa under colonial rule and subsequently codified in apartheid.
A separate chapter discusses the National Question. The author mounts a sustained critique of ‘Africanist majoritarian chauvinism’, making a significant and combative contribution to the prevailing discourse on race, identity and post-apartheid dynamics.