What's Gone Wrong?
South Africa on the Brink of Failed Statehood
Published by: NYU Press
174 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- ISBN: 9781479854974
- Published: April 2014
This is the book that Alex Boraine never wanted to write. As a native South African and a witness to the worst years of apartheid, he has known many of the leaders of the African National Congress in exile. He shared the jubilation of millions of South Africans when the ANC won the first democratic elections in 1994 and took up the reins of government under the presidency of Nelson Mandela.
Now, two decades later, he is forced to wonder what exactly has gone wrong in South Africa. Intolerance and corruption are the hallmarks of the governing party, while the worsening state of education, health, safety and security and employment strengthen the claim that South Africa is a failing state. Boraine explores this urgent and critical issue from the vantage point of wide experience as a minister, parliamentarian, co-founder of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) and Vice Chairperson of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee. He digs deep into the history of the ANC and concludes that both in exile and today, the ANC is slavishly committed to one party as the dominant ruling factor. All else – the Executive, Parliament, the Judiciary, civil society and the media – take second and third place. The ANC, Boraine claims, seeks to control every institution.
What’s Gone Wrong? pulls no punches, but it also goes beyond strong criticism and offers a number of constructive proposals, including the re-alignment of politics as a way of preventing South Africa becoming a failed state. As South Africa mourns the loss of Mandela and embarks on another national election, with the ANC likely to begin a third decade of rule, this incisive, detailed critique is required reading for all who are interested in the fate of this young nation.
"Unlike many other political science books, it is refreshing and heartening that Boraine takes pains to present as balanced a perspective as possible, acknowledging both the good and the bad of the government that now rules. His prescriptions for improvement . . . are important and appropriate for making the point that all is not lost. It is still possible for South Africa to succeed as a nation state in spite of all that has gone wrong." -Peace and Justice Studies
"At a time of much smoke and many mirrors, where
better to turn to for clarity and understanding than one of the rare voices
with gravitas and credibility in South Africa today, political veteran Alex
Boraine."-Max du Preez,author of Of Warriors, Lovers, and Prophets: Unusual Stories from South Africa's Past
"[T]his is an important and thoughtful discussion of key challenges facing south Africa. Drawing not only on published sources, but also experience and interviews with key players even inside the ANC, Boraine's reputation as a champion of liberal democratic values, like that of Desmond Tutu makes this a critique that cannot easily be dismissed."-International Journal of African Historical Studies
"Boraine's brief against the country's rulers will command attention from readers interested in South African politics."-Publishers Weekly
"This book refreshingly removes the final luster from early 1990s South Africa. Boraine respectfully but critically asks why that period still seems to be the claim to fame and glory of a country that has now been free and democratic for a generation? An important and eloquent work."-Choice
"Boraine, an influential white antiapartheid activist, has written a scathing critique of the ANC, the black dominated party that has ruled South Africa for the past two decades . . . this heartfelt critique of South Africa's status quo deserves a read."-Foreign Affairs
"We are in dire straits in
our beloved country. In this hard-hitting volume, Alex Boraine incisively and
with great perspicacity answers the question so many are asking: ‘what’s gone
wrong?’ . . . We have the human and natural resources to become a scintillating
success instead of a failed state, and Boraine shows some of what we need to
do."-from the Foreword by Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus