More than 20 years have elapsed since Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president of South Africa ushered in the postapartheid era. At the time, few observers predicted an easy path for a country with such a violent history and such enormous inequalities. Over the next decade, however, a relatively smooth transition to democracy and Mandela’s enormous personal appeal heightened expectations both inside and outside South Africa. It was almost inevitable that the government led by Mandela’s party, the African National Congress, would fail to meet those hopes. Hartley, a prominent South African political journalist, skillfully tells this story of emerging dissatisfaction. His authoritative account covers, among other things, the disastrous AIDS policy of Mandela’s successor as president, Thabo Mbeki; the various financial scandals that the senior ANC leadership has allowed to corrode public faith in government; and the poorly conceived, badly implemented economic policies that have resulted in mediocre economic growth and little change in prevailing levels of socioeconomic inequality.
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