‘They Eat Money’: How Mandela’s Political Heirs Grow Rich Off Corruption

Since apartheid ended, African National Congress leaders have siphoned off tens of billions of dollars. Will South Africa’s new government confront such epic graft?


Comments: 198

  1. Sorry, but I don't see a whole lot of difference between the South African corruption model and that working in the United States right now.

    Both selective and wholesale elimination of regulations to the effect of putting more and more wealth into the hands of those pulling the strings - to the detriment of the remainder of the country - is just another method of supporting the "entrenched inequalities" of both nations.

    We all need to get the money out of politics. The longer it goes on, the greater the upheaval when it happens. And it WILL happen.

  2. Could not agree more. It will happen when what is left of a gutted working/middle class, finally wakes up to the stone cold fact that they have more in common with a "ghetto baby mama", than they do with the one percenters and investor class, that they worship so much.

    Even the people who delude themselves into thinking they have a finger or two on the brass ring are a few bad weeks in the stock market away from disaster.

  3. Then you have never lived in a country where just to get to work (if you have work) requires slipping coins and bills to police and/or other "officials".
    Where every involvement with government from local to national requires "greasing palms." In the US we are fortunate to have reliable and honest (compared to anywhere in Africa and much of Asia) bureaucracy.
    There is ZERO equivalence between the US and SA. That is why the US is still the most desired destination for anyone seeking opportunity.

  4. @Chris,

    If you cannot see the difference between the corruption model in ZA and feel the need to attempt to compare it to the political atmosphere in the US then I suggest you book a flight to Joburg and go see for yourself.

  5. This is the same story in almost every developing countries including other BRICS nation, including India, China, Brazil and Russia. Only the extent varies. These countries have almost no future in the long run despite of having impressive short term economic growth rate and probably will end up with low intensity civil war in the name of religion, race etc promoted by both political parties, political and corporate leaders to strengthen it grip over power and money.

  6. That is nonsense, all countries have gone through this phase, the US was once controlled by oligarchs like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt etc. Also, gangsters like Al Capone owned the legislators. It just takes a public that is fed up and a leader that is determined to clean the system. It took the US 200 years including a civil war and still it isn't quite there.

  7. Wow, that's some insight and generalization covering countries that's 150 to 4000 years old and on opposite side of Earth with completely different demographic and political system.

  8. In the developing world, man exploits man. Here in the developed world, it's the other way around.

  9. Thank you for this article. SA seems to be in a descent into chaos caused by the greed of the ANC officials - like so many other African countries who gained independence over the last 4 decades. One would think that all the ANC had to do was look to the north to find out what not to do when assuming power.
    But I can't blame them alone - the apartheid era governments were ill conceived, cruel and equally blind - who didn't, after a little thought, know that apartheid could not succeed. A power sharing arrangement could have begun in the 1950's or 1960's (or even earlier) and SA could have evolved into a more equal place for all its citizens.
    The current issue seems to be: will Cyril R be able to stop the descent into chaos? He seems to have to tread cautiously given that his faction of the ANC could be displaced by Zuma's by a committee vote whose members have been feeding at the public money trough. As such his survival as President may call for talking about ending corruption but not really addressing it - until perhaps he has solidified his position a ANC leader.Time will tell.
    The next election may further erode the ANC's grip on power. Given their stewardship its time to change whose in power.

  10. I have always taken the view that the corruption in developing nations (be it China, India, Russia, or take your pick of any on the African continent) is at least honest - everyone knows that's how it works and that hands have to be greased to get things done. On the other hand, the corruption in the US (i.e. feeding at the trough as practiced by the current crop of GOPers, the underhanded and sneaky legislation giving away public goods to interest groups, tax policies that continue the enrich the already rich, the various gifts of deregulation to industry and Wall Street where profits are privatized but losses are borne by taxpayers, etc.) is far more insidious and damaging . . .

  11. Sorry, this tired trope of "we got it bad too, only differently" is simply not true of developing nations where corruption is often wanton and unpredictable than following any pattern. More often than not, "greasing" palms doesn't do anything, you may simply have to pay - for nothing in return. It is far more harmful than the institutionalized corruption you speak of, to the point of being deadly when you can't or refuse to pay.

  12. "far more insidious and damaging..."

    Go to Africa and explore the extent and depth of its poverty, then come back and tell us which has been more "damaged", the USA or Africa.

  13. This is a very helpful article for me, as an American living in South Africa. It is hard to find such deep analysis based on facts in this country. I've been hearing about this dairy farm debacle but didn't know all these details. Sometimes I ignore what's going on in South Africa as I can only absorb the depressing news from the US. So far I have not heard much that gives me much hope that Ramaphosa will be serious about going after corruption, especially when it all leads back to ANC officials. If more people would use their votes to voice their displeasure then we might see some movement but so far, the opposition Democratic Alliance only finds traction in the urban areas. The article is a good analysis of how this whole system came to be but at some point, something's gotta give. Those farmers were rightly skeptical and let's hope they stay that way about the ANC. Zuma's ouster was one step in a very long process in a large, complicated country.

  14. This article examines corruption without mentioning what may the biggest story in the coming years: land redistribution. The SA government is moving forward to expropriate land from white farmers without compensation. The likely outcome, especially given the corruption described in this article, is that the land will be taken from the current farmers and awarded to friends and family of government members. We have seen this story before in Zimbabwe, and the results were catastrophic. I fear many more will starve as SA continues on its extralegal path.

  15. You care so much for white farmers.How nice.

  16. While I understand there has been some violence around white farmers in SA, I do feel the Mugabe model is an extreme that SA will not repeat. For one the legal system in SA is still very independent and even Zuma and the ANC have failed to diminish it. Secondly the white community of Zimbabwe was much smaller and more isolated politically. Finally, I think SA is dynamic enough that the Afrikaner (who is not really European anymore) will still have a home in SA for generations to come. I suspect the greater SA worry is what happened in Kenya where rampant corruption will erode the will and perseverance of many white farmers and they will voluntarily relocate to Australia or New Zealand, selling their property for pennies on the dollar to connected government members. If I was in SA I would really work right now to strengthen the system of legal and judicial protections before Cyril Ramaphosa settles into power. The results will be the same but the violence will not be as great as imagined or being talked about in parts of the western media.

  17. That's the "biggest story in the coming years" out of South Africa?!?!??!?

  18. Mandelas' dream truncated by corrupt politicians and venal corporate 'leaders'. I guess you could say 'What else is new' particularly in places where wealth and freedom get twisted to wealth for me and nothing you all of you except lies and pure poppycock. Perhaps it will turn around. Sounds like the ANC was/is corrupt to the core - including Winnie Mandela???

  19. During Mandela's short years in power, the A. N.C was seen as a beacon of hope for all countries in Africa.

    Today, the A.N.C's leadership turned the party into a criminal organization dressed as a political party. Black South Africans are now politically free but continue to be living in poverty, uneducated and without hope of a better life.

  20. That's because none of his corruption was discovered before his death and people don't want to say bad things about a dead founding father so collective amnesia set in.

  21. Devastating. Poor Nelson Mandela. He spent his entire life and many years in prison fighting for his poor countrymen. He was a hero of the people. He must be rolling over in his grave.

  22. Look at every promising Sub-Sahara African country, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, etc. The common factor is a single powerful pre-independence political party that morphs into a corrupt machine that simply decides kleptocracy is more profitable than reform. ANC, ZANU, KANU, SWAPO they are all interchangeable acronyms - In the end the black master wants to be like the white master - Rich and Fat!

  23. Sadly, it is what governments do - they extract as much as they can and they use it to aggrandize and embed themselves in power. In the RSA they did it horribly visibly, because well, new money shows off. The change from the apartheid state that extracted money to embed themselves with military/repressive power, and the ANC state that uses money for visible personal enrichment is almost too much for the eyes to bear and the heart to contain. All the blood, all the tears and all the sacrifice brought new, black, greedy Masters to the top, and the women in the villages and the townships still cry in the night, their babies hungry, men unemployed.

  24. I was wondering why Winnie Mandela's corrupt dealings were conveniently forgotten when she died. Her convictions for fraud and theft were not mentioned.

  25. Because it would be traced to you know who. There is already Aung San Suu Kyi gaining power and killing minorities the world doesn't need to know Mandela would turn into Mugabe if he lived longer.

  26. True to form and SOP for sub-Saharan Africa...or all of Africa for that matter. Nothing new here. This happens when corruption is bundled under the rubric of business acumen. Resources go to complete waste, good minds flee, and government becomes a feeding trough. Nation goes to seed despite the existence of every needed element for success and prosperity.

  27. The same story as in India where Gandhi's Indian National Congress led the independence struggle but after Nehru was gone, became steeped in corruption. A party with a strong ideology and values, the Indian National Congress degenerated to such an extent that the only ideology left was to cling to power by whatever means.

  28. But, but...........we were assured that Blacks are not the kind of people who would be capable of corruption. That horrible trait has been universally attributed to White People alone.

    And now? What must a person think? Decades of being misled have to be reconsidered.....Sigh!
    .

  29. Corruption seems to be part of some humans, regardless of race and creed, I find it prevalent in every day life on so many levels.

  30. That's a shocker!

  31. "The black majority was allowed to control politics, but much of the country’s economic resources... has remained in the hands of white South Africans..."

    Whereas in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's revolutionary government extensively dispossessed white residents, such that the country's economic resources were controlled by the (black) revolutionary government, and things there are even worse.

  32. Apartheid was horrible for sure, but they had to see this coming....

  33. Of course they did but they don't care. You are poor now and someone told you there is a 10% chance you can corrupt your way to a millionaire wouldn't you do it? They don't care there is 90% chance of things stay the same or slightly worse because they all think they can be the 10% that would climb to the top.

  34. "The endless scandals have also raised serious questions about the complicity of major Western companies, with multiple investigations scrutinizing the role they may have played in enabling corruption and weakening the country’s institutions." This is part of the bigger picture as it always has been and yet it's briefly mentioned with no names of the western companies that enabled them. Shame New York Times.

  35. Read again, a few was named.

  36. Which kind of corruption do you prefer--the old colonial corruption of the current corruption by individuals?

    I notice that when global corporations want to pry power away from socialist leaders (as in Brazil, Venezuela, etc.,) they cry "corruption." Government-run industry is a threat to global capitalists. The profit might trickle down to the masses after the requisite graft.

    Citizens of a democracy should keep the reins in their own hands.

  37. Mandela was a gifted and sincere visionary for his people; he was not God. The ultimate product of any revolution is built by a people, never a lone person, no matter how inciteful. In this case: I have met the enemy; the enemy is Us.

  38. Political corruption is color blind. Those at the bottom are being taken advantage of by their black brothers today in post colonial Africa. Mugabe showed that the local people were not ready to take over the economic engine of Zimbabwe when he confiscated white farmland, resulting in the country going from the breadbasket of Africa to starving in a generation.

  39. Zimbabwe being the breadbasket of Africa was and is an exaggeration. How much of Africa did Zimbabwe feed? It has never been the breadbasket of the mighty continent with its vast regional food and culinary differences. For example, West Africa never depended on Zimbabwe for its food supplies.

  40. "At just under $21 million, the loss at Vrede may seem small". That sounds like a lot of money to me.

  41. Why is this tale so familiar? Does democracy work when voters are uninformed or unable to decipher the intricacies of public officials?

  42. There would be no socialist revolutions if there were informed subjects.

  43. I’m South African, and this entire episode has been terrifying and hopeful at the same time. Terrifying because of the speed in which Zuma and his cronies managed to take over and corrupt a country, but hopeful because of how they have been taken down. I have a friend who is Nigerian, and what impressed him is how angry and motivated this whole sorry episode has made South Africans; once it became apparent what was going on, people refused to stand by and watch the country flounder. It also showed that the democratic institutions that were put in in the mid 90s, the courts and the press all held (and they were thoroughly tested). It’s not clear of many other countries’ institutions would survive such an onslaught of corruption.
    I was lucky enough to be home the day that Zuma resigned. The relief and feeling of hope was palpable. Already, Ramaphosa is taking steps to demonstrate that he is different. Before he took on the role of deputy president, he divested himself of all his business interests (cf Trump) and has made an effort to connect with the people and cut costs.

  44. Yes, Zuma was cut down, but the system and entrenched establishment have not changed at all. Good on you to keep your hope up, but unless and until the system is changed for the better, until there is true accountability of elected officials, until prosecution and judicial system can truly bring those corrupted officials and related parties (companies that help facilitate the corruption and laundering of money) to justice, nothing will change.

    Why is it that all those companies, including banks, consulting, and auditors, able to get away scott-free, with nothing more than an "ooops" (not because they're sorry for the bad deeds, but because they were caught red-handed). Yes, taking down Zuma is a good start, but I'm afraid he's just the hydra in disguise, cutting him down is only going to see three more rise up to take his place (in corruption).

  45. Let's hope American can take a lesson from this!

  46. Buy exactly how did Ramaphosa go from nothing to multi-billionaire??

  47. What else would anyone expect?

  48. South Africa, a prisoner of it's own making, political democracy and economic poverty from a deep inequality, where corruption reins uninterrupted. Who is in charge of sensible regulation? Who, to stop the crooks and their impunity?

  49. Very little difference between the political corruptness and elitism that has occured in the U.S. for decades except that the South Africans don't have the smarts to do it better and more secretively. These are folks who had nothing and now all of a sudden they are in charge and have access to millions. I hate seeing this because I have been to South Africa and simply love the country, its people, and its beauty. Hopefully the Democratic Alliance will oust the ANC and start cleaning up the country along with bringing real economic opportunity to millions of Black Africans. But, it will be a long road to recovery.

  50. OMG, a Washington backed regime change put in power a corrupt and complacent government beholding to western business interest. You don't say, what a surprise.

  51. They key to a successful democracy is a truly independent judiciary. The key to an independent judiciary is a police force that is loyal to the judiciary. It does not matter what the law is if it is not enforced.

    Without an independent judiciary, corruption is inevitable, and then the middle class will choose authoritarianism, typically the military. Then you get corruption with guns.

    It is not the Congress of the US that protects our freedoms. It is independent prosecutors, backed by independent judges to whom the police are loyal. That last link, being moral in nature, is the weakest, and once corrupted, so very difficult to restore.

  52. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Not only has the ANC had over twenty years of control, but their stealing accelerated in the last decade as it became clear to ANC leaders they could do as they pleased and not face unpleasant consequences--their majority was secure through cadre deployment, the massive enrichment of regional ANC premiers, and the stoking of old grievances about white racism in the run-up to elections-- "white monopoly capitalism" being the latest iteration of this, which neatly combines race identitarianism and neo-Marxism in one popular slogan.

    Unless you are a committed intersectionalist neo-Marxist yourself, it's clear how this type of hate-mongering can cause harm to a society, and how corrupt and well-connected leaders can raid public coffers for their own enrichment. When the truth-tellers are muzzled by accusations of racism, neo-colonialism and so on, then corruption snowballs into the outright theft of a nation's wealth--without fear of criticism or consequences.

  53. '"white monopoly capitalism" being the latest iteration of this, which neatly combines race identitarianism and neo-Marxism in one popular slogan. "

    Actually this campaign was created and executed by Bell Pottinger which used to be one of the largest PR companies in the world based in the UK

  54. Jburg is facing a draught that will destroy the city. ANC designed it to be so through their denying infrastructure spending because of politics.

  55. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Mandela's party is a sham, as are African leaders. Nothing to do with race. Just unchecked power. And no, this is not the US as some comments imply.

  56. This is democracy unchecked when there are profound demographic, racial , religious and other "tribal" imbalances in any nation. Food for thought...like the US, S Africa should have started out post apartheid as a republic rather than a true democracy. An uneducated electorate can be a very dangerous thing and easily misled (witness Russia in 1918, France in 1780's, etc) The dominance of one party was assured and corruption set in motion. I also think he author overlooked an important question, just how does this corruption compare to that in s Africa during apartheid ? At some point its up to the voters who elect the ANC to tales responsibility for their vote.

  57. When you add it all up, just how many people out there are actually working for a living?

  58. Cry, the beloved country.

  59. In South Africa, you call it graft. In the United States, we call it tax cuts and military spending.

  60. The end of apartheid in 1990 did not solve any social problems in South Africa. In Rhodesia in 1980 the goal of the creation of Zimbabwe was to put in place a black state which will protect the economic supremacy of the white farmers and businessmen. That was the goal also in South Africa. You may call it Operation Zimbabwe II. Therefore corruption is another way of preserving the economic statut quo as that very good paper demonstrate. And like in Canada or the USA, behind a corrupt politician most of the time you will find a businessman whom cash in.

  61. Really an amazingly well researched and written article. My only question is if the article is actually trying to blame corruption on wealthy whites as it seems to indicate Mandela's choices upon democracy starting led to the corruption due to finances still being controlled by whites? Seemed a bizzare claim and article never went back to that so wondering if it was just thrown in to show a more "balanced" view.

  62. When I was recently in South Africa, it was explained to me that the previous white government was just as corrupt but it benefited white people so not much was said since black people had no rights. This is just case of different government, same corruption. The fact that it is the party that was supposed to be the saviour of the black people just adds insult to injury.

  63. Happening all over the world .

  64. Apartheid South Africa was horrendous...and economic reform should have accompanied political change. But I don't know if it's that simple. After all, the graft reported is widespread within the current government - a post-apartheid one. And this kind of corruption is already widespread in so many other African countries, even after land reform. 'Eating money' is a mindset that will have to change, before Africa can work for more than just a rich elite. Greed and selfishness is easily entrenched - as America's discovering.

  65. Hate to say it, but reading about the corruption and selfishness of the top ANC leaders, their willingness to use the government to steal money for themselves from the poor and hard-working alike, their placing themselves above the law including involvement in murder of dissenters, etc.: This is where the Trump way leads. Might makes right and is above the law, and to the winner the spoils. A tribalism that tolerates the nomination of a known pedophile for US Senate. An arrogance that hires and then defends two known wife batterers in the White House. Violent cuts in school budgets so that the a handful of powerful already wealthy people can have a tax cut.

    And Trump's supporters could care less, as long as he pokes his fingers into the eyes of Blacks, Latinos, Women, Gays, and Liberals. And Republican politicians could care less, as long as they get to cut taxes for their wealthy patrons and as long as they get to steal elections through phony ID issues, gerrymandering, and vote surpression. This is where the Trump way leads.

  66. Good heavens. How did this story turn into an attack on Trump? I think if the NYT published a piece on an angry turnip, it would be turned into an anti-Trump diatribe by someone.

  67. Please explain precisely how Trump has caused South Africa's problems. Exactly how is South Africa Trump's fault, or the fault of his US supporters?

  68. Perfect logic: the ANC and other political power brokers are making a fortune by skimming from the ethnic minorities that generate actual economic value. Solution? Destroy the minority groups that generate economic value by seizing their lands, shutting them down, and driving them out.

    Seriously? If someone is stealing the goose’s golden eggs, you don’t kill the goose. You stop the thief, no matter how much he tries to blame the goose.

    SA is becoming Zimbabwe. And the Mandelas’ legacy is becoming that of the King family’s - another giant who was brought low by his descendants’ graft. Albeit in King’s case, what his descendents have done is mostly local, and it really didn’t impact his legacy that much.

    The real tragedy though is that stories like these only reinforce the racist and colonialist stereotypes that people like Trump hold and promote about Africa. Once the developed world loses trust in you, you’re truly on your own.

  69. Ah yes, except Zimbabwe is a shining example of how bad it can get when you go down that road, and that example is right next door, so very hard to ignore. Hopefully, people can learn from that hard-won lesson! The Zimbabweans certainly have.

  70. Nice Trump tie in, but you're largely white. Mugabe destroyed Zim and ANC is following suit. NYT singing the blues because the business is white and the government is black doesn't move me. Thank God Australia will rescue the SA Farmers from the genocide that ANC is inching closer toward.

  71. Sad that all the people in these countries finally throw off the yoke of their oppressors only to revert to oligarchy.

  72. Is Democracy more than just a concept? That question is yet to be answered. A true representative democratic government, based on the rule of law, has yet to exist in humanity. Greed, disguised as Capitalism, and corruption ruin the system too easily. The Americas rose based on slavery and usury. Freedom, justice, and equality are yet to prevail. Sadly, South Africa is another example. Even Greece, the birthplace of democracy, has been ruined by corruption and globalism. Where does this all go now that fascism, corporatism, and militarism are ascendant?

  73. Excellent question. The media would rather stay with with today's headline.

  74. The hope for any democracy is an informed, educated electorate with safeguarding checks and balances. The education of masses is a long venture with enough teachers and other professionals to build a true middle class among the people who had been previously disenfranchised. The dairy farm swindle sounds like a really stupid ploy that would unravel under watchdog scrutiny with the equivalent of attorney generals, but if it is corrupt from the top it filters down to the bottom of the stinking pile. If any head of state is proven to be corrupt, selling its resources to friends and family, there is the death of any democracy. That was why in the beginning Winnie Mandela was pushed out with suspected illegal activities. So where was the spirit of ANC fighting the evils of apartheid shifting to fighting the evils of corruption during this time?

  75. "That was why in the beginning Winnie Mandela was pushed out with suspected illegal activities." That is why many so-called freedom fighters, themselves tainted by self-interest and lack of education, can only be heralded as neophytes, though the western media enshrine them as "saviors" of their people.

  76. I hope South Africa can keep moving forward. The schooling system available for most blacks is still very poor, and that is crucial for their ability to fully participate in the economy and to truly share power. That was never going to be solved overnight, but it's disappointing how little that has progressed in more than 20 years.

  77. SA isn't moving forward. The country is moving towards Mugabe's vision. You don't like having white owned business because they're white? Then there will likely be no business.

  78. So, they took out the apartheid and what did they get? The same ol’ same ol’. Some call it realpolitik, like the present day Republicans in the US. Others call it corruption, like we tend to do when we see it in other countries. It’s just the same ol’ same ol’.

    Or, in Tennessee Ernie Ford’s old song—“what’d they get?” “Another day older and deeper in debt.”

  79. How can we focus only on those accepting or taking money without also looking at those offering the same, and, worse, making corruption part of everyday life because it will make them even more money. I'm ready to cap the amount of money anyone can have. Period. Want to earn more? Fine but it goes into a worldwide fund that is used to solve world problems including inequalities in wealth.

  80. Equality has been reached on one level , greed and corruption does not discriminate against race , color ,creed , religious beliefs or sexual orientation

  81. Isn't this how the world works?

  82. In recent years, has there never been an amendment added to the Constitution to enable the black majority a greater share of the economic opportunities in South Africa? Would it be possible to have a referendum vote to add one?
    Constitutional matters aside, if there is deep corruption, only accountability for those who deal in and benefit from corruption can possibly lessen this.
    Personally I cannot understand the mentality, government officials living in luxury while professing to help the very people who continue to suffer in squalor through their corrupt activity.
    The only thing that prevents me from getting thoroughly depressed by this article is the thought that there remains a free press in South Africa, as well as watchdog groups and advocacy groups for the country's dispossessed. One hopes that collectively they may be able to hold Ramaphosa to account so that some positive changes may be made.

  83. The work of a revolution is ongoing and generational--aren't we seeing that in our own nation now? Perhaps the hardest work needs to be undertaken after the obvious victories have been won. South Africans, like us, are battling to create a true Democracy in their nation and the world. So are we. May we all have good courage in this battle which we have been born to engage in at this time.

  84. The magical solution is revolution that transforms people as well as societies and then crashes down into another form of oligarchy of people who see themselves as the saviors or protectors of the people and end up the oppressors. Successful democracies are founded upon trust and mutual interests not miracles.

  85. http://africasacountry.com/2018/01/the-new-south-africas-original-state-...

    January 28, 2018

    The New South Africa’s original ’State Capture’
    By SAMPIE TERREBLANCHE

    The ideological shifts that took place in the African National Congress’ economic views from 1990 can only be described as breathtaking: from an explicitly socialist, redistributive approach towards embracing the American ideologies of neoliberal globalism and market fundamentalism.

    From 1990 Nelson Mandela and Harry Oppenheimer met regularly for lunch or dinner and the main corporations of the Minerals Energy Complex (MEC) met regularly with a leadership core of the ANC at Little Brenthurst, Oppenheimer’s estate. When other corporate leaders joined the secret negotiations on the future of the economic policy of South Africa, the meetings were shifted to the Development Bank of Southern Africa during the night.

    Although I was involved in the ‘talks about talks’ from 1987 until 1989, I did not take part in the 1990-94 negotiation process. I have been told that at the time senior individuals attached to the Sanlam Group of corporations were very much against my involvement because of my preference for social-democratic capitalism....

    Sampie Terreblanche is Professor emeritus of Economics at Stellenbosch University.

  86. de Klerk got the deal he wanted. Mandela ended apartied but agreed to allow the white business community to continue as it had. The attempts to bring blacks into the economy, especially in rural areas, has failed. Zuma's corruption had reached a point that it was too obvious to be ignored. Ramaphosa doesn't seem to be the advocate of the people that he stated when Zuma was forced to resign. Zuma was a master of playing the rhetorical ANC against the oppressors but his actions led to his disgrace. The worst though was international corporations that raced into take advantage of the corruption in the ANC.

  87. To become a successful civilized society a nation must overcome corruption. An active democracy is no assurance this is the objective. Too often the goal of the parties fighting for power in corrupt countries is not to rid the country of corruption, it is to become the beneficiary of it.

  88. This is one of the better pieces I've seen on South Africa in the Times. Gets to the nut of what is ailing our nation BUT we need further analysis of one dominating factor which holds us back. Despite ALL the allegations and the constant stream of evidence that the ANC is perpetrating huge amounts of state-sanctioned theft of its own people, those same people continue to defend the ANC and to vote for their representatives! I realise that South Africa is still a developing democracy, but UNTIL people grasp that they will only improve their own lives if they punish their leaders when they transgress, we will get nowhere in South Africa. The forthcoming 2019 general election will be a very interesting referendum on the ruling party but I remain 'guardedly optimistic' at best. The African mentality as concerns politics is a puzzling combination of endless optimism, nostalgia, fatalism and blind loyalty beyond all reason. We need to evolve beyond that and start being much more demanding of our politicians -- primarily that they be held to ACCOUNT for their actions. When THAT happens, we will truly have taken the next step in our democracy.

  89. When the norm is winner take all - and keep all - at any cost, what else do you expect?

  90. Is there any African country that isn't corrupt through and through?

    Why is the U.S. expected to donate billions to African nations when it seems that 98% of the money goes straight into corrupt leaders' pockets?

    Why are there never audits on these countries to justify all the billions thrown at them showing zero improvements decade after decade?

    Drain the Swamp of their lobbyists.

  91. Funny, Zumma sounds just like Trump and spews the same slogans about draining the swamp, which is really just another line for the gullible.

  92. This happens all the time

    Elite of new regimes use their newly acquired power to enrich themselves, to compensate years of struggle before taking over

  93. Oh, them! Those developing countries that have no political ethics to guide them. No separation of profit and government. No favoritism, nepotism, lobbyists, or special interest groups. Sure glad that's not happening here.

  94. Blaming corruption on ancient colonialism or modern economics is misguided and futile. The South Africa plight was inevitable because nearly every country in sub-Saharan Africa is astoundingly corrupt, whether it has the hideous colonial history of Belgian King Leopold in the Congo, or the brief, benign and benevolent British rule in East Africa. Belgium left the Congo with little infrastructure, no educated Africans, and no government in 1960. Three years later, the British left Kenya with a vibrant agricultural economy and many educated Africans who had been trained and employed for years in running a complex government. Both countries quickly descended into the mass corruption and kleptocracy that undermines development and keeps the majority of citizens in abject poverty. Not only is most government tax and aid money stolen, officials devote their time and energy to stealing and building their own businesses rather than working for their peoples' welfare. The latter is not on their radar.

    Of course, Africa is hardly alone in crippling levels of corruption. Most countries outside North America and western Europe are mired in graft. The quaint western notion of social responsibility is simply missing, and public office is seen as a bottomless bank account rather than a duty to the country. It is hard to see how this can ever change - after generations of greed and theft, young people have no role models upon which to build responsible and functional governance.

  95. What Mandela did was important. It is now the duty of the next generation to make their truly equal by pursuing economic justice. If they succeed, the youth of South Africa will be a beckon of hope for the rest of the continent whose leadership is mired in destructive corruption.

  96. In the USA, we have legalized corruption known as lobbyists. Not much difference only here it is legal. And the corporations enrich themselves courtesy of the taxpayers. God Bless America.

  97. Corruption on a massive scale can take place only when facilitated by multinationals who are critical to smuggling stolen assets out of the country into the safe havens of the London and New York property markets where money busy anonymity. In South Africa's case it was KPMG, McKinsey&Co and the banks who put their respectable stamps of approval on vast corruption practices. Sadly this happens everywhere (remember Arthur Anderson).

  98. No, it happens from the country itself, everything else is just flies attracted to the rotting smell.

  99. Exactly. Look at the Russian oligarchs throwing their graft around England, the United States and elsewhere as foreign governments turn a blind eye to the source of wealth. No country's leaders can siphon billions without the tacit consent of int'l companies and foreign governments.

  100. Our collective cultural memory is so very short. Too few seem to recall a dystopian fable by an unconventional British ex-colonial police official named George Orwell. Animal Farm. It’s all in there. Orwell was unconventional, but he was no fool. That his work is fast disappearing from school curricula is to the great detriment of all.

  101. Beantownah - Animal Farm was about the false higher ethic of collectivism. It has little to apply here. Perhaps you need to refresh your memory.

  102. Orwell's target in Animal Farm was Stalinism, not collectivism. No doubt, your own biases prevented you from understanding the book. Perhaps you should reread.

  103. Stalinism was a false form of collectivism, thank you for adding the minor detail. I graciously dismiss your petty irritation as a side effect of you being late with your taxes.;)

  104. The question; was this country ever ready for democracy? Seems like it's going down the path of Zimbabwe and other neighboring countries.

  105. The problem of "race" is masking the real problem here. Cronies and incompetent people replaced highly trained and competent people.

  106. Thank you New York Times for researching and publishing this article. A patriotic South African (living in Johannesburg) appreciates your efforts.

  107. I've mentored and supported an impressive young man living in a settlement shack for years, putting him through college in Joburg and trying to find every opportunity for him to improve his situation. It's been so disheartening to see his growing frustration and despair as his dreams for a better life have stalled out. He told me last week that Ramaphosa as president will not change anything; he is still ANC and they sold out the people. Generations of vibrant, young South Africans suffer under the long shadows of apartheid and the greed and selfishness of the current system. Yet still he and I move onward together. I will always have hope, if only for my son's sake.

    http://www.long-distance-dad.com

  108. Ironic to place this story next to the current imbroglio playing out in the U.S. government. Freedom isn't free, and democracy never has an "arrival" point.
    Greed and corruption are in the human genome. The Garden of Eden story goes on and on. Satan, however envisioned, is alive and well.

  109. Same old same old. Those who lead the fights against colonialism become presidents-for-life in one-party "democracies", claim the right to eternal power, and pillage the countries they rule.

    Meanwhile, Winnie Mandela is fawned over by the press, worldwide, like a combination of George Washington and Mother Theresa. The torture and murder that her "football club" thugs doled out to anyone they didn't like a whole lot is glossed over, like her corruption, if it's mentioned at all.

  110. Inequities and scarcities create the conditions described in this article. Apartheid required that the oppressed be too poor to find the material means to escape the system designed to control and to exploit the black people. Mandela prevented a civil war and a terror period but there needed to be some substantial portion of the wealth controlled by whites and private entities to alleviate the economic inequities. Having only enough resources for the black masses to just get by but never to achieve the same prosperities and successes as whites was bound to produce protracted social problems or even civil war. The whites cleverly bought off the leaders by paying off the members of the A.N.C. Now those corrupted members of the A.N.C. Have become another force whose fortunes rely upon oppressing black people to keep the whites fearful and eager to keep paying off the crooks in government. Had the whites been generous with the wealth that they controlled, none of this needed to happen.

  111. Well stated. I observed a very similar process take place when the Sandinista Government in Nicaragua gave up power after the 1990 election. Lots of state-owned and quasi-state-owned enterprises were handed out to various bigwig and slightly lower party officials, many of whom had made serious sacrifices fighting to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship. At that moment, however, the party was giving up control of the government in a sorta fair election, so the opportunity for ongoing corruption and self-reward was inherently lessened. I was very judgmental of the young revolutionary leaders who became business, home, and other property owners overnight. While I still condemn this corruption and self-dealing, with time I've also come to see that when people spend a decade in the mountains or in the dictator's jail, they do believe they are owed something for their part in the birth of democracy, or in Nicaragua's case, limited democracy. I don't condemn or forgive with this comment--only describe the parallel. An old, sad story to be sure. All of which is context and reason to condemn the Trump business dealings being directed out of the White House.

  112. Excuses and rationalizations, as usual, to keep one from facing the truth. Power corrupts. It doesn't matter what is the skin colour, the religion, the ethnicity. look all over the world, in the Middle eat, in Russia, in Eastern Europe, In China, Japan and South Korea, but not of course, in the USA.

  113. Please stay casual. Is South Africa a better country now that Blacks are in charge? A close South African activist friend who left because of apartheid returned years later to be told by Blacks in charge, all they wanted was U.S. money. This was a man who for years resisted the white apartheid government. He also told me, he is a doctor, that the South African medical system, the gem of Africa, is in deplorable condition.

  114. On February 28, the SA parliament voted (241 for 83 against) for a motion to change the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation. In clear, to steal the agricultural land away from their owners, if they are white, to give to the government chiefs and their minions. This against a background of daily murders of white farmers in the country side. That is another side of the kleptocratic ANC rule that sets South Africa on a steady, inexorable, unstoppable downfall to become another Zimbabwe.

  115. Frozy, what you are writing is not completely true. I'm assuming that you read your "facts" from some alt-right website? There are not daily murders of white farmers in South Africa.

  116. Farm murders—and attacks—are a thing...but do not seem to occur at anything close to one per day.

    A couple of sources have them around 100 or less a year.

    A murder is a murder, and not to be scoffed at, but it’s also not clear how many of these are actually racially motivated or just more senseless violence resulting from the extreme disparities in wealth.

    https://africacheck.org/factsheets/factsheet-statistics-farm-attacks-mur...

  117. It may not be daily but it was 3 a week as of mid-march. Perhaps you should get your facts straight before you nitpick.

  118. The world is tribal not democratic.

  119. "Mr. Zwane, continuing his meteoric rise, soon leaped to the national stage to become South Africa’s minister of mineral resources...."

    Th ostensible "fight against racism" has essentially become a mechanism for the systematic looting of the state. Not that dissimilar for many preferential contracts given out to people based on skin pigmentation instead of qualifications and track record of accomplishment.

  120. Where are the young leaders who will be willing to go into the rural areas and start educating the people about their rights and responsibilities and how current policies are corrupt and harmful to most South Africans? Even in Zimbabwe the MDC and Tsvangiari made some progress and they were brutally oppressed by Mugabi's ZanuPF.

    Where are the politically aware and interested young people of South Africa?

  121. I met a young man while visiting the German city of Nuremberg. We had a very interesting conversation about democracy, language and his future. He told me that though he admired the young people who stayed in his country he didn’t because he saw no future. He feared corruption would overwhelm everything. Sadly he appears to have been right.

  122. The "Uhuru" movement has coincided with the expansion and greater application of the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) involving deals all over Africa. It's no coincidence and what an unmitigated disaster! Read Paul Theroux' last Africa travel book if you want to get a sense of how awful things have become on this continent in the last 50 years; that's right, it was far better for Africans under mid-20th century colonial administration.

  123. So right and the culprit as is obvious from his book is insane overpopulation. Until there is leadership analogous to the Chinese and a one child policy it will only get worse.

  124. So right and the culprit as is obvious from his book is insane overpopulation. Until there is leadership analogous to the Chinese and a one child policy it will only get worse.

  125. This is how business is done, more or less, in the world. The grease that gets things done. I am hoping that it is LESS in my country.
    Lately I'm not so sure.

  126. What a grave error to premise the article on post-apartheid corruption. Why overlook the horrific conditions created during forced segregation, brutalization of the countries own people my the minority white rulers, and the corruption (financial and otherwise) which allowed such conditions to continue for decades? Fraud exists everywhere. Widespread fraud is more common than the writer seems to think.

  127. I could be wrong, so please forgive me but the word you want to use is "Grift" not graft.

    Grafting is for plants. Grifting is corruption.

    Thanks

  128. Studioroom, graft is correct, you can look it up, perhaps before you comment.

  129. The label "grifters" may be causing the confusion, and it surely fits for these kleptocrats.

  130. This was all quite predictable. When you look at the terms attached to the loans that Nelson Mandela felt compelled to accept:
    * Lower import tariffs;

    * Cuts in state spending,

    * Large cuts in public sector wages;

    * Free trade routes;

    * Excessive flight capital off the borders of SA;

    * Privatisation of state own enterprises;

    * Fiscal controlled economy.

    Once Mandela was gone, it was obvious that the only people who would step in would be people with no concern whatsoever for social and economic justice - just a bunch of kleptocrats.

    Thank neocolonial, neoliberal institutions such as the IMF and World Bank for SA's plight. There is more than one side to any story, but in the corporate media, the only side you're likely to hear is that of the tiny slice of the population that owns most of the wealth - and these people have no concern for democracy, economic justice and human rights.

    https://www.news24.com/elections/opinionandanalysis/how-mandelas-anc-sol...

  131. South Africa has become the black-controlled kleptocracy as we all knew it would. It has converged to the African model of black elites overworking and stealing from the black population. Completely unsurprising.

    Black South Africans are now the slaves of other blacks as well as of rich whites The whites, the ones with any brains anyway, are making plans for their physical exit with their weapons loaded, their bags packed, and Australian visas up to date. Think Zimbabwe.

    Mandela was a great man, a Gandhi-like figure in his capacity for self-overcoming and largeness-of spirit. He thought South Africa had a chance with its white productivity to raise living standards for all. It was always likely to fail, and it has.

  132. The sadness is that for all the wonderful courage of the ANC leadership before the presidency of Nelson Mandela began, the leadership seems to have neglected the forming of institutions that would foster the sort of development of a Singapore or a Korea or of a China. Britain was not a suitable development example for South Africa.

  133. Kinda lays to rest liberal simplethink, "Black=good; White=bad".

  134. And this comes as a surprise to..... whom?

  135. The American way of corruption is to make it a clean thing, to present it as a polished and finished object right under our noses, where we so take if for granted that we ignore it. It's like the extremely well dressed shoplifter, they could not possibly be stealing so we ignore them.

    You can look into myriad government programs and learn that while they should not even be, they are because they have a constituency profiting from them at the expense of the taxpaying public. Military research & military inventories are a case in point. Billions are spent researching ridiculous ways to win imaginary wars with impossible weapons does nothing but heat up global arms competition. The robot horse comes to mind, or the half million dollar pilot helmet. The missiles Trump just dropped on some supposed chemical sites cost more than the sites.

    The Pentagon has no idea what it owns, and no way to figure it out. Hundreds of billions in military inventory of parts and pieces in thousands of locations, and no clue if it makes any sense. That is corruption because it is the theft of education and health care from children. Cow farm in S. Africa, really? Who cares, physician heal thyself!

  136. This article is not about America.

  137. Yes, there is waste in our institutions, corporations, and military. However, I beg to differ on the blatant corruption so well described here in the A.N.C. Mandela must be rolling in his grave.

  138. Corruption as endemic as this is impossible to eradicate. I guess they are seeing it as equal opportunity to get rich (or "redistribute wealth at the top" through old established corruption venues in place since before). The ANC and politicians (probably of all sides) may be seeing the advances made merely in political liberal terms, the elimination of racial apartheid and the opening up of the political system (democracy as free elections). They are not using "class" inequality as a criteria of advancement (which these days gets to be considered "socialist"). This is the case almost everywhere in the world these neoliberal days, including, of course, US. The discontent in South Africa is due to the continuing economic inequality, not so much to corruption. Solving of the corruption problem will not change things much in terms of economic redistribution either. What is needed are bigger structural changes, and these would be criticized in the usual ways as "socialistic" anti market, etc.
    In any case, corruption in the US takes place in more sophisticated and complicated ways (ex hedge funds bubbles, offshore tax shelters,campagin donors ), although who can forget the Cheney and Halliburton links in Itaq' lucrative contracts? Then there is Brazil (though Lula's deal sounds paltry next to the deals mentioned here), Argentina, Italy, Spain, Russia (especially within the new capitalist framework), etc. etc. Plus ca change...

  139. Is this really an improvement over the previous government? Getting rid of apartheid is a plus, but must be balanced against stealing much of the economy. Is it as bad, or worse, than the Russian oligarchs?

  140. One aspect of African life that I think needs to be borne in mind is how unstable and variable it can be. People who I knew with money in Africa could rise rapidly to great pinnacles of wealth and influence, and then fall dramatically too based on conditions beyond their control. One day we woke up to find that our money had half the value of the day before. People stayed away from elections for fear of violence and didn't think they were fair anyway. Life can be very precarious for indigenous Africans who don't have a tie to Europe, the way white Africans do even if they have been in Africa for generations. "Corruption" becomes a way of getting what you can when you can and bending rules that were set up to be unfair to you. When you get into power you look like a klepto, but I think actually many are just used to feeling very insecure and doing what they can to avoid the awful kinds of things that can happen, that Westerners can hardly imagine in their own lives. it's easy to criticize corruption when your country serves your interests instead of presenting pitfalls, traps, and hopelessness for the dirt poor.

  141. Just like America's rich white people suck the life blood out of its citizens while ferreting its earnings in other countries to evade taxes. No one eats more money than the graft-enriched Congress who represents the agency, corporation, organization and/or individual who pays them the most. Disgusted with this country always looking its hypocritical nose down at others who have if, anything, learned from us.

  142. We do not have employment or appointment to any public office based on merit.

  143. The ANC is Black with one or two token whites.The new billionaires are all black. Most "earned" their wealth by political patronage at the expense of the poor.
    BEE (Black Equity Employment ) means no white gets a government tender or permanent employment. If you are of mixed race or indian descent you are not Black enough.

    Estina dairy farm is the tip of the iceberg.

  144. Umm, the vast bulk of U.S. tax is paid by those very same rich white people. You'd better hope they keep producing wealth for you to tax. The hypocrites are outfits like the ANC who come to power with promises to better the lot of the poor and then sell them right out. Cf. Chavez, Lenin, Marxism, and Progressivism.

  145. Surprising to see all the anger about the recent "corruption" described in South Africa. In Nigeria, this would rank as "kindergarten" grade. SA has a long way to go before the problems rise to levels that are now considered normal in places like Nigeria. Maybe there is still hope for the country to pull out of the death spiral. But alas, will not happen. Destiny remains destiny in Africa.

  146. Is anyone surprised at the corruption? What did people expect? Perhaps the "old man" - Mandela - could keep the thieves in line; but once he departed, the door was wide open for the ANC to plunder Africa's richest country. Expect more of it, especially as the white population is forced out of the country.

  147. Sounds a lot like corporate and Trump's America. Let's hope we can take it down as quickly.

  148. It is simple. Whatever happened in the past the ANC is in charge since 1994 and the most they have done is just looting the country and filling their own pockets. The ownly reason why people keeps on voting for them is because of handouts in the name of government grants and because people are faithfull to the party who rescued them out of apartheid and by constantly reminding how apartheid was if they dont keep voting even though there are better parties to vote for which will do much more than the ANC. But people are to nonstalgic and believe in ridiculous things like there will ever be another apartheid. Just vote for a better party and create competition an whala better services. But its to hard to let go of ghosts of the past. Its almost like standing behind a glass whall and you see the other person is going to get hurt but he can not hear you so that you can help him.

  149. This is all so sad. I don't know that the US could have been as benevolent as Mr. Mandela. But the "current" end result just demonstrates the greediness of humans. I've been working all over Africa on projects for 8 years and by and large, Africans are the nicest people on Earth. The still teach respect for others in their communities and their classrooms. I hope this changes for the better fast.

  150. Nelson Mandela was exceptional among African leaders. These people are not his political heirs, they are parasites.

  151. What is it about these African nations that keep on robbing their citizens of their money?

  152. I don't think that it's just Africa. In countries throughout the world where poverty is prevalent so is corruption. (See for example South and Central America.) Poorer people need money. Corruption is one way to get it. In wealthier countries (see for example Scandinavia) corruption is less prevalent because wealthier people need less money.

  153. They all believe that they are owed a living.

  154. Of course this is still at least 50% white people and Western companies' fault! After 25 plus years one would think that the ANC should own this but no somehow it is still evil white people and Western companies that did it. I suggest that a NYT report fly to any country in West Africa and try and get anything done professionally w/o paying a bribe. Start by declaring your video equipment at the airport and say you are making a movie. See what happens. After you pay no bribes and loose your equipment let us know.

  155. "aggressively free press and a wealth of independent organizations and scholars who keep a close watch on government malfeasance" -- yes, and how does that prevent corruption?

  156. Lots of money is wasted in corruption for public schooling, too, and this fuels the persistent inequality South Africa faces 24 years after apartheid ended. As a country, South Africa spends more than most other nations on public education, but the majority of these funds are fritted away by local corruption. The country has an economy with some bright spots, but there is currently no public educational ladder that pulls talented black South Africans born into lower income levels or rural areas into the middle or upper classes. Removing the corruption from the country's public education system is one of the most important steps in building a stronger middle class and ensuring opportunity gets distributed in the country.

  157. Corruption is an obvious evil with a less obvious remedy.
    However, the underlying issue is the disparity in wealth and income between the white and black communities. Unfortunately, there are only bad and less bad options to resolve this issue, at least in short and medium term.
    South Africa can follow the Zimbabwean example of redistribution (which itself was filled with favoritism and corruption); but that ended up ridding the country of its white citizens and caused a collapse of the economy from which it still suffers 20 years on. If South Africa were to confiscate or heavily tax its white citizens they would likely leave, which would leave a dearth of capital and experience to run many of South Africa's companies, particularly the larger ones. This could cause a Zimbabwean type collapse.
    On the other hand, building wealth in the black South African communities - which would be a continuation of its current path - will take many, many generations (100 years or more?) before wealth levels in black communities may reach wealth level in white communities. Does the black South African population have the patience to wait? I doubt it.
    As I said, there are no good answers here.

  158. Some of these comments are insultingly condescending . We had Boss Tweeds and Jay Goulds who were able to operate in a democracy that was a hundred years old, not twenty five. Hopefully as Teddy Roosevelt said, a new broom sweeps clean.

  159. Tweed was a crook, but a municipal crook, and what does Jay Gould have to do with this? He was a buccaneering businessman who made and lost of a lot of investor money in railroads. Neither of them, nor anyone else, funneled money wholesale out of the national treasury.

  160. As a Black East African who was born and grew up there before coming to London, corruption has always been 'the way' We joke and rant about it but seriously, it is the norm. Even when these politicians are educated to the highest levels and have had the opportunity to live in the West and see how beneficial it would be to ditch corruption, siphoning 'government funds', hiring on merit, professionals and experts but nope..the same shortsightedness always raises its ugly face. Give a guy power and access to money, and in the end he only thinks and lives for himself. They all end up taking the money.

  161. Yes, power corrupts, unfortunately.

  162. At least they are eating, for now.

  163. Hmm. Reminds me of the endemic corruption in India. What is it about third world countries that makes the elected politicians act as if they own the country's coffers. Why doesn't it happen in western countries?

  164. Actually India is not that bad. India's current Prime Minister, Modi and the past two, Manmohan and Vajpayee do not have any stain of personal corruption and are generally regarded as honest. India has also managed to send a long line of politicians to prison for corruption from all parties. Politics in India is generally corrupt and requires illicit cash so that generates corruption and links to the underworld.

  165. Hi. I think one of the reasons that it doesn’t happen in Western countries is because we have had a longer, more established democracy. We have certain checks and balances that somewhat prevent this widespread corruption. Also, we didn’t start our democracy after years of colonialism. We built it brick by brick, we learned as we went, and we had and have more control as a result. I’m sure the answer to your question is multifaceted-I just thought I’d weigh in. What do YOU think?

  166. Re: "we didn’t start our democracy after years of colonialism".

    What?

  167. A collapse into corruption happened in most African countries. A wealthy white minority is not necessary to the process, and normally the corruption reaches its peak after the whites flee. Redistributing their wealth is not a cure for it, it is only a way to make the economy collapse, like it did in Zimbabwe.

  168. when was the wealth redistributed in Zimbabwe? Seems to me, one man took all the gravy.

  169. Was the Afrikaner govt not corrupt? Seems to me it was, was since it sanctioned a near slave labor force and murder to the resisters. ok, to criticize the present power holders but they pale in comparison to the former govt of murderers.

  170. For now. I’m sure some people said the same about Mugabe’s government when it took power in Zimbabwe.

  171. Really underscores the value of benevolent leadership whether in SA, as was the case under Mandela, or hopefully soon in the US.

  172. In a 1994 article by John Carlin of Independent Co., Archbishop Desmond Tutu was quoted as saying, the new [South African] government had 'stopped the gravy train only long enough to get on'.

    Like dross, the failings of humanity will almost always rise to the surface when a society’s metal is tested with the heat of real transformation. I believe the time of dross is directly proportional to the depth of pure metal in the people of the country. To me, Russia is both a confusing and good example of just how long the time of dross can be. Twenty-four years and counting for South Africa is not good news.

  173. Seems to me that this problem is world wide , and it is another reason for the rise of populism . Economic inequality is rampant in all countries with no exceptions that I can see . Seems to me it is starting to become a major problem even in the Scandinavian countries which have reputation of being the most egalitarian .
    Part of this uprising , such as we see happening today in Hungary and Poland can also be considered a rebirth of Fascism . This is pointed out in the new book by Madellaine Allbright in her new book.

  174. Democracy (and the power of voting) is the only sufficient. If you don't have transparency in systems and establishments, if you don't have checks and balances, if you don't have judicial systems to provide redress to malfeasance, then it matters not who's at the top, and it certainly doesn't matter the skin colors of those in power. It used to be all white, and the blacks revolt. The grand bargain that Mandela struck with the erstwhile apartheid government was made on good faith, but Mandela was perhaps too naive in thinking how the power of voting is going to change everything. Twenty odd years later, we know better now.

    I can only hope that people would still use their votes to push for changes for the better. It's long overdue.

  175. The political heirs of South Africa learned corruption from Afrikaners and their British colonizers. Imperial colonies were developed to take the food out of indigenous mouths in order to feed mercantile mouths. South Africans are at least not financing the transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars annually to their war complex, which Americans do willingly. Accordingly, they are labeled primitive.

  176. How quickly & much they have learned from their previous imperials.

  177. Whites never gave up power, most importantly access to jobs and resources. They just bought themselves a black front. I’ve always imagined American elites explaining to South African whites that the optics of apartheid were bad. They could declare equality without ever making it real. We’ve done it in the US and you can do it too. That’s why there was a concerted effort to demonize Winnie Mandela. She didn’t buy it.

  178. U.S. racism is so entrenched that we don't require any apartheid-like laws to keep it in place. In addition, blacks are 13% of the U.S. population, not 80% like South Africa. However, I do believe the U.S. is making racial progress of the "two steps forward, one step back" variety.

  179. Hmm...nope...Winnie Mandela was so awful that not even Nelson Mandela wanted anything to do with her.

  180. A lot of these comments sound like cheap justifications of graft: When you have the opportunity to steal, you'd better do so because others have done so before you, or you'd better stash some away because some terrible political misfortune may befall you. These guys have abused the public trust and they deserve to go to jail.

  181. The ANC looted South Africa. Pure and simple. Evident to anyone who lived and worked in South Africa. To believe it will end soon is to believe in fairies. The great fears of the Afrikaners on what would happen once they turned over control came true. As Africa’s most richly endowed nation South Afrika has been a conspicuous disappointment under ANC rule. And is likely to remain such for decades to come.

  182. Royalty is as royalty does...

    As least they're not holding to primogeniture...

  183. It is too easy to blame Zuma for the plunder and theft and failing that to summon up the ghost of apartheid and the supposed corruption that occurred under that regime as some weird justification. South Africa has a pervasive culture of entitlement and as a major beneficiary of so-called "economic empowerment" it is naive to expect that anything will magically change under Ramaphosa. Simply a case of new hands in the cookie jar....

  184. Mandela was one of a rare bread, a true hero. There really very few real heros in the world anymore anywhere. A teenage woman named Malala Yousefzai and a 90-year-old named Jimmy Carter, the world's leading advocates for women's rights. Who else? Oh I know. Today the word "hero" today is meaningless because almost everyone is a "hero" these days. But just being a decent person who serves other is NOT the definition of the hero. It is the definition of a decent person. Real heros do more than their duty.

  185. In some some instances, Western interests have actively and knowingly contributed to the problem - and on a massive scale.

    Consider, for example, the case of South Africa’s three “Heroine Class” attack submarines. SA ordered these from Germany in the early 2000s to replace the SA navy’s obsolete French-supplied fleet. The new German subs were delivered in 2004.

    In 2008, the British press reported that in connection with this transaction, German defense contractors bribed former presidents Thabo Mbeki Jacob Zuma to the tune of a mind-boggling $40 million.

    In 2010, the German Public Prosecutions Authority finally commissioned an independent investigation of the transaction from the elite law firm Debevoise and Plimpton. The firm’s investigative report was never publicly released, but Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that it had obtained a copy, and that it confirmed the amount of the bribes.

    Something to think about.

  186. In Italy officials of the national oil company are on trial for bribing Nigerian government for oil concessions. Some will say it's past time Western companies were held to account in their own countries for exploiting Africa's mineral wealth in a way that enriches only a few. But what is the realistic alternative? One must deal only with people who have both power and honesty, when no such persons exist?
    Perhaps this means there should be no extraction, nor any contracts, until these countries have evolved their own institutions and mechanisms to ensure transparency and public benefit? And when might that be?

  187. The corruption that enriches families like the Mandelas is the same corruption that impoverishes the African continent.

    The vast majority of "aid" sent from the West disappears into this net of corruption.

    Yes, the USA is not perfect. But that does not mean that Africa's corrupt systems should not be criticized.

  188. This is a necessary and superbly reported article, and I know the truth in the writing, but this is heartbreaking given the struggle and hope about Nelson Mandela.

  189. What did one expect once Mandela left office? Name one country in that continent that is not rife with corruption, cronyism, dictatorship and violence. Go ahead.

  190. Botswana. Namibia. Rwanda (hard to believe, but true). Get educated, white man (that's an assumption on my part).

  191. Botswana

  192. Money corrupts, and big money corrupts bigly.

  193. I traveled through South Africa in February. In a bookshop in the Jo'burg airport, I stumbled across a recent bio of the new president, Ramaphosa, who was inaugurated while I was in Cape Town. The dust jacket of the bio said, literally, that South Africa is so corrupt it's on the verge of being "a failed state"! Crammed to the gills with gold and diamonds, yet a failed state because of the inexcusable ANC kleptocrats who have made a grotesque mockery of everything Mandela stood for. As if Winnie Mandela had led the country Into the future instead one Nelson. Cape Town looks great as long as you stick the to its shores and the lovely roads to and from the Cape of Good Hope and the mountainous wine country (except of course for mile after mile after mile of Soweto-style ten shacks by the hundreds of thousands lining both sides of the multilane superhighway). Sort of a mixture of Miami Beach, Malibu, and Napa. But go downtown and you'll discover the black underbelly of all the overwhelmingly white glitz. When I stumbled into the area to visit Cape Town's major museums in the middle of the week, both were simply CLOSED, and the landmark Company Garden they surround covered with chain link fence. The only other naive tourists foolish enough to be in this area were a couple of fellow culture-vultures from Paris, who were as disoriented by the chaos we had discovered as I was. A South African woman simply said her husband was scanning the British Commonwealth for a way to escape!

  194. The article seems to imply that the real problem is that the South African regime change in 1994 was incomplete; that somehow, if blacks had ‘finished the job’ then - what exactly this means is never explicitly stated - these problems would not be happening now. But then how to explain that countries where the ‘job’ was finished fell into corruption and decay much quicker and much more thoroughly? Zimbabwe (farm invasions), Mozambique (where all whites were kicked out with 24hrs notice and allowed to take 24kg of stuff with them), the DRC (ditto), Uganda (where Asians rather than whites were deemed to be the problem, and kicked out) are all among the poorest and most miserable countries on earth. The real problem isn’t a flawed transition. Nor is it the fact until now, property rights have been upheld - as they must be if incomes are to grow. No, the primary problem is a flawed and dishonest culture inside the ANC that is openly tolerant of corruption, and the inability of the electorate to perceive that their own interests would be better served by electing others to power.

  195. Let me throw in a different perspective. All African freedom movements are built around the dangerous politics of land ownership. At the negotiating table (no Sub-Saharan African country has successfully became independent by armed rebellion - like the US) the issue of future economic prosperity has been used to deflect from the dangerous issue of land politics. Mandela made this compromise, as did every African leader before him - the idea that large scale redistribution is bad for the country. Stripped of the power to fix this one problem, most governments turn to the consolidation of power and of course the habit of stealing what little is available for themselves. Absolute power corrupts and in Africa all post independent parties have accumulated power absolutely. This power is needed to quell unrest, growing urban crime (read landless) and political opposition (read land politics). Government patronage is just a tool to keep the wheel rotating and to buy peace. The results are bloated government jobs, fake Africanization and empowerment projects, etc (read accelerated corruption).

    Many thought SA with its vast opportunities would escape this cycle, but the truth is the African (and I am including all those whites) love for land ownership is compulsive or obsessive. The entire culture is built around land ownership either as individuals or as tribal wealth. Without land Africans are "lost" - nothing else holds real value to Africans beyond the land.

  196. Is anyone surprised by this? This is pretty much exactly how we expected it to turn out.