ACAS Review (Bulletin)



Populism and the National Democratic Revolution in South Africa

By | November 2009

KwaZulu-Natal has been and continues to be mutinous. There is a sense in the popular imagination, usually constructed by the media and embellished in everyday conversation, that there is something different, insubordinate and robust about the province. There is

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 84
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Why is the ‘100% Zulu Boy’ so popular?

By | November 2009

In 2009 Jacob Zuma won the endorsement of Nelson Mandela and the overwhelming support of voters, thousands of whom wore ‘100% Zulu Boy’ t-shirts to celebrate the approaching end of an enigma, namely Thabo Mbeki’s technocratic (and some say authoritarian) rule over the African National Congress (ANC). Indeed, Jacob Zuma is admired at home because, unlike his inscrutable predecessor, he is a recognizable man of tradition and struggle. Decades ago, the young Zuma left his reserve for work and activism in a South African city, sharing a formative experience with millions in his country, including his idol Mandela. Thus, Zuma travelled a common path never trodden by his rival, an intellectual almost destined from birth for exile overseas. While Mbeki prepared for an economics degree at Sussex University, Zuma reached for the iconic Kalashnikov, his ‘mshini wami’. And no sooner had the cosmopolitan Mbeki settled into his English surroundings, than the guerilla Zuma (arrested and jailed) drew inspiration on Robben Island from boyhood tales of Zulu King Cetshwayo’s defeat of British invaders at Isandlwana. This stunning victory in 1879 also fired the imaginations of Zuma’s iconic cellmates. They, along with the ‘100% Zulu Boy’, debated tactics of armed struggle under the radar of prison censors, creating an oral world of military strategy with century-old resonances smuggled in from Cetshwayo’s royal house.

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The Zuma era in ANC history: New crisis or new beginning?

By | November 2009

The inauguration of the Jacob Zuma government was met with considerable popular approval and initially generated a great deal of euphoria, hope and encouragement, (as well as dread and contempt on the other hand). While this paper attempts to move behind these emotions to the character of the phenomenon, I have no contempt towards the outpouring of joy and hope invested in what is claimed to be a new beginning, albeit not always for the same reasons.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 84
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Scoring an own-goal

By | November 2009

South Africa is revolting. Since May 2009 there has been a wave of uninterrupted township as police clash on an almost weekly basis with unemployed protestors and striking workers. A recent estimate counts 63 major ‘service delivery’ protests since January 2009 with 24 percent of protests taking place in Guateng and 19 percent in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. As the protests continue, increasing strain is being put on the Tripartite Alliance as some African National Congress (ANC) leaders in national and provincial government have accused the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) of being behind violent protests.

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Presidentialism and its Pitfalls: Towards a theory of how not to understand the Zuma Presidency

By | November 2009

It was an unthinkable for many. That Jacob Zuma would become President of post-Apartheid South Africa. Or rather it was unthinkable for many in the West, and for many of the elites in the postcolonial world. At some point South Africa possessed one of the neatest narratives in the history of national liberation movements. A globally condemned problem- racism, and a globally revered leader- Nelson Mandela. A history of violence that was transcended through forgiveness and reconciliation. That was a much consumed version of the story in most of the world. The untidiness of historical actualities is of course a different matter. And yet it seems that the untidiness of actuality always struggles to find voice when it doesn’t seem to tell the story that is required. Perhaps that is because we grasp the world through genres of understanding. Our historical-political events, like our economic fates, are told through classificatory systems, concept repertoires, metaphors, and idioms that allow us to make the specificity of a moment both commensurate with other specific moments in other places at other times. Specificity is therefore inserted and dissolved into historical Time and space so that we can tell a story who’s dimensions, characters, and plot we are roughly already familiar with. We have good stories, and bad stories. There are the inspirational stories, the tragedies, dramas, and the farces, perhaps too much farce. Political life in liberal democracies, totalitarian states and other forms of centralized authority embodied in a person has a genre of its own, through which we seek to make sense of it all. Yet in making sense of the individual leader, the genre that governs plot, character and narrative in political journalism and much political science literature, has already predetermined what it looks for, even if it can’t always govern the timing of events, as the epics of Greek political tragedy demonstrate.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 84
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Introduction: The Politics of Jacob Zuma

By | November 2009

Jacob Zuma, the President of Africa’s most powerful democracy since April 2009, and the recently chosen ‘African President of the Year’ (Sapa 2009), arouses strong passions from his supporters and detractors. A longtime ANC official from a humble peasant background in what is now Kwazulu-Natal province, Zuma was picked by the ANC to be the country’s deputy president under Thabo Mbeki in 1999. The men, close colleagues during exile (and during the early years of negotiating with the Apartheid government), appeared to only enjoy a friendly rivalry at that point. So when it came to predicting who would lead South Africa when Mbeki departed the national stage, most observers did not think of Zuma as a serious contender. He hardly featured in the daily cut and thrust of national politics.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 84
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Manhood, violence and coercive sexualities in men’s prisons: dynamics and consequences behind bars and beyond

By | September 2009

Over the last few years the CSVR in Johannesburg has conducted research on sexual violence in men’s prisons. One striking feature of this work, which initially jolted my assumptions, has been the relative readiness of perpetrators of male same-sex rape in prison to report this violence to us as compared to the bashfulness of victims. It’s the context of the situation where perpetrators seem more willing to talk about their violence than victims – that I’ll consider in this article, showing how it is actually well explained by the social place that sexual violence occupies in prison. This focus which has pertinence far beyond prison walls as well, sheds light on particular notions of gender and sexuality and their relations to violence.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 83
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Trans-hate at the core of gender based violence?

By | September 2009

Gender DynamiX is a human rights organisation, the only in South Africa focussing its work on the transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming sector. The organisation was originally founded to work on a referring database system, collecting and archiving information from and about transgender people by transgender people to disseminate useful information (on request to other transgender people). Stealth living is in many trans[1] people in South Africa’s viewpoint the ultimate goal, hence the lack of information and silence around the prevalence and visibility of transgender role models. What was initially seen as the goal of Gender DynamiX was quickly exceeded and we were contacted by trans people from all areas in the country, indicating a much greater need than collecting and disseminating information. Soon after its inception Gender DynamiX initiated workshops, seminars, participated in the larger LGBTI sector in activism and contributed to the local and regional ‘pool of knowledge’ about transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming information. Most importantly Gender DynamiX hosts a very informative website which serves in many trans people’s lives as the first touch point to obtain information about medical and legal procedures.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 83
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Post conflict recovery in Sierra Leone: the spiritual self and the transformational state

By | September 2009

“We need to get back to the old time mobilization of our grandmothers”, said Regina Amadi, Regional Director for Africa, of the International Labor Organization (ILO), May 8 at the 2009 African Women Changing the Global Outlook Empowerment Conference in Washington D.C. As she spoke before Somali intellectuals, Ugandan business women, Nigerian journalists, and Tanzanian political leaders, she and other global leaders shared their concerns about Africa’s political, economic and environmental and health condition. The British Embassy and National Geographic sponsored the conference by bringing together noted international panelists to respond to audience questions. While the usual suspects brought up age old hot topics such as good governance, the role of Ngo’s, and male political power structures, participants challenged female panel members on what they are doing to empower those who do not have the privilege to attend the conference. American Journalist, Makeda Crane asked, “What are we doing NOW to help the women in the Congo?” Makeda’s overarching question brought to light the complicated tier of injustices that make women’s goal to “help” and “improve” Africa a task bound by time, space, and resources.

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Searching for the will to conscientiously prosecute sexual crimes in Zanzibar

By | September 2009

The passage of the Sexual Offences (Special Provisions Act) (SOSPA) in 1998 intended to promote the prosecution of crimes of gender based violence (GBV) more broadly. Specifically, it sought to strengthen the protection of victims and survivors of sexual violence. In 2004, the Zanzibar legislature, the Zanzibar House of Representatives, amended SOSPA further including it in Part XV of the 2004 Zanzibar Penal Act with the objective of making the law more readily accessible to functionaries in law enforcement and the judiciary, and therefore facilitate its implementation.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 83
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