Courtesy Reuters

Since 1994, when apartheid in South Africa came to an end and voters of all colors chose Nelson Mandela as president, the international press has treated election time in South Africa like a piece of feel-good theater. Every five years, the ruling African National Congress would beat the “we won liberation for our people” drum to attract voters. And it worked, with almost 70 percent of the electorate consistently supporting the ANC, the party of liberation.

But 2009 will be different. This election year, the main actors may be the same, but their roles have changed dramatically. The last time South Africa had

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