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Rethinking Africa's Political Economy: An institutionalist perspective on South Africa

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Xolela Mangcu argues that what distinguishes South Africa from many other African countries is the strength of its institutions. Over the past 18 years South Africa has been able to make peaceful and stable transitions between four presidents: from Nelson Mandela's charismatic authority, to Thabo Mbeki's rational-legal authority and Jacob Zuma's traditional/prebendal authority. Kgalema Motlanthe's presidency was too short to exhibit one type of authority or the other. Despite efforts by ruling party politicians to curtail the judiciary, the media and civil society, South Africa boasts strong institutions of the bourgeois public sphere. The Achilles heel for South Africa's democracy is the lack of strong micro-level institutions, particularly in local government, leading to regular eruptions of violent protests.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2012


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