Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds The idea is not to overwhelm you with all kinds of political theories, and ideas, or conspiracy theories, and concerns that people have, but just to share with you perhaps a few key issues, a few key questions, a few political concerns that will have a bearing, we believe, in the years and even decades that lie ahead. Starting with some global trends– as also mentioned when we spoke about economics, globalization, globalism is here to stay. And this naturally doesn’t only have an economic implication, but it has an impact on geopolitics– impacts power forces within the planet.
Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds One of the more important ones probably these days, as we have mentioned in the past, is that the role of China in the years and decades that lie ahead. They have become the second biggest economy, probably the biggest in the a years’ time, and along with that does come the potential for some kind of power play. As it is, we already see that, whereas we used to talk about the G7 or the G8, we now have the G20. And the G20 does include a growing number of developing nations.
Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds Other global issues that we need to be aware of, and these are not necessarily new ones, is naturally, despite what we say about China, the USA remains in many respects, if not a superpower, one of the most significant powers. And for many years to come, one suspects that in the domain of economics, certainly, and in the domain of education, and technology, they will remain a driving force in what happens in the world politically. Meanwhile, Russia, as we all know, back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, we had the end of the Cold War, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, but Russia still remains a very important player. Although demographically and economically, perhaps losing some influence.
Skip to 2 minutes and 8 seconds Events in Russia, events towards the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century pointed towards Russia’s growing influence in that region– Ukraine comes to mind. And one wonders whether to what extent whether or not there might be growing antagonism between the world and Russia. China and Japan have a history of tension with one another, especially in the South China Sea area. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, ongoing tensions persist. The Israel-Palestine story doesn’t go away. Along with that, we have the spread of radical fundamentalism– Islamic fundamentalism, the Islamic State– IS, Boko Haram, amongst others– Al Qaeda– they will also obviously have a bearing on future global political relations.
Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds In North Africa, a few years ago we had the Arab Spring, where in a number of countries resentment was shown towards the lack of democracy. I’m afraid three or four years later, there’s no real evidence that democracy has made a strong and firm comeback. And in some respects, we might be even be looking at the possibility in these kind of countries of a descent towards anarchy. Moving a bit closer to home, obviously in sub-Saharan Africa, there will always be for many years to come concerns about the success, or lack thereof, of democracy. We need to bear in mind that in Africa, democracy is a fairly young phenomenon.
Skip to 3 minutes and 46 seconds The “Economist” a few years ago pointed out that after independence in Africa until around about the year 1988, not one single African leader had ever been voted out of power. They’d all either been– either died in office, murdered, assassinated, coup d’etat, or disappeared mysteriously. Since 1988, more than 30 African leaders are regularly voted out of power. That’s a sign of emerging democracy. But we have to bear in mind that going from one system to another, let’s say from the previous African system to democracy, doesn’t deliver immediate result. It takes many years– actually, even decades for countries to adjust to the true meaning of democracy– one of those being the need for accountability.
Skip to 4 minutes and 33 seconds If we think about Western Europe, America, for instance, democracy there probably took root around about the late 1700s. And even there, they’re still wrestling with the exact correct mode and blend of democracy. These things, as I say, don’t deliver results overnight. We have a kind of zigzag approach, whereby countries embark upon democracy, give it a go for a few years. They might find it’s not quite working, take a few steps back, then try again. And it’s almost two steps forward, one step back. So this kind of mismatch in Africa between democracy progressing and in some cases, economic development not progressing at the same speed does create a kind of a vacuum– it creates a kind of disequilibrium.
Skip to 5 minutes and 21 seconds So it wouldn’t be surprising to find ongoing low levels of unrest in many African countries. Even closer to home, South Africa, obviously, we all know the country’s history. We know that after many, many decades, around about the late ’80s, early ’90s, things started changing here. We too have a true democracy, as we all know. We’ve had a few elections since 1994 . And 20 years later, although I do believe that our democracy– one of the hallmarks of our democracy, is having autonomous democratic institutions. And that perhaps differentiates South Africa from many others in Africa. Nonetheless, there are concerns. Naturally, we all know about these concerns.
Skip to 6 minutes and 11 seconds We know about all kinds of corruption accusations leveled against various members of society, both politicians and in the business sector. There’s growing concern in some areas about Maladministration, and one can’t help think about the energy crisis in this regard, and perhaps an emerging water crisis. There’s naturally growing concern about leadership within the ruling party.
Skip to 6 minutes and 43 seconds Labor has a very interesting relationship with our political setup– organized labor, [INAUDIBLE] in particular, is in an alliance with the ANC and with the SACP. That’s an interesting alliance, a rather unusual alliance in terms of global realities. And schisms within the labor organization are starting to emerge. And this could have an important bearing on the country’s political future. Demography can play a role. A growing proportion of the country’s voting population is fairly young. In fact, a growing proportion consists of those people born after 1994, those with no first-hand knowledge about pre-‘94 South Africa. And one can only wonder how this will have a bearing on their voting behavior in the years that lie ahead.
Skip to 7 minutes and 35 seconds Will younger people, younger voters, be voting as middle-income or aspiring middle-income citizens– probably urbanizing? Or will they be voting as people– some kind of institutional genetic memory of pre-‘94 South Africa? Will they vote at all is another important question. Meanwhile, what’s encouraging in South Africa in many ways is that civil society is becoming more engaged. This is also a very important part of a successful democracy. We find, not always successfully, but we find a civil society protesting against [INAUDIBLE] for instance. We find civil society becoming more and more concerned about education norms and standards. This Is encouraging.
Skip to 8 minutes and 21 seconds Talk about education– this too is perhaps for many people one of the failures of post-94 South Africa, that our education system is not really delivering the goods that we would expect it to do. So all in all, a report card on South Africa’s democratic experiment, if you like, since 1994, will yield for different people mixed results and mixed feelings. I want to repeat an earlier point, and that is I think the true test, the litmus test, is going to be the degree to which we jealousy cling to the matrons of the independence of democratic institutions. By that I mean, bodies like SA Reserve Bank, the public protector, the auditor-general, the judiciary.
Skip to 9 minutes and 11 seconds As long as they remain independent and autonomous, that’s a positive sign for democratic development in South Africa. If we start suspecting that this autonomy has been jeopardized, then I think there’s a reason to start getting worried.
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