This year, the African National Congress – which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid – picks a new leader. But their embattled president, Jacob Zuma, will leave a legacy of scandal, corruption allegations and a sluggish economy. Gideon Rachman discusses the future of Africa’s largest economy with the FT’s Africa editor David Pilling, and South Africa correspondent Joseph Cotterill.
South Africa has been shaken by news that the country’s respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan is facing fraud charges in what appears to be the latest episode in a power struggle with President Jacob Zuma and his allies. Many suspect the charges are trumped up and designed to give Mr Zuma total control of the levers of power. Ben Hall discusses what happens next with Joseph Cotterill and Andrew England
Senzo Meyiwa, the captain of South Africa’s national football team, was clearly a popular and talented player whose star was on the rise.
So when South Africans woke up to the news that the 27-year-old goalkeeper had been shot and killed in what appears to be an attempted robbery at his girlfriend’s house on Sunday evening, it is little surprise that there was an explosion of grief.
Television stations provided blanket coverage. The presidency quickly offered its condolences, with President Jacob Zuma saying “the law enforcement authorities must leave no stone unturned in finding his killers.”
At a hastily arranged press conference, Riah Phiyega, the national police chief, announced there was a R250,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the killers. Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, the national football coach, broke down in tears as he recalled a young man who was “was a team player, he was everything.”
The sad truth is that fast on the back of the Oscar Pistorius trial, a promising, young life has been lost in tragic circumstances, while South Africa once again draws international attention for all the wrong reasons.Read more
This week’s Ofsted report that is expected to warn of hardline Islamist teaching creeping into a handful of British schools will revive the debate on whether a much broader push is needed to combat extremism in the UK.
Even before the bribery allegations concerning Qatar’s World Cup bid emerged last Sunday, the young emir of the gas-rich state had reason to believe the world was turning against his country.
Young prodigy Cassiano de Jesus has captured the footballing world of Brazil where the sport is one of the few equalisers in one of the planet’s most unequal countries.
Four years after the last World Cup, residents of South Africa are still waiting to see its legacy.
Lionel Messi “rejected the advances of Spain’s national team to choose Argentina, the land of his birth, only to find that he could never really come home.”
• In an interview with the Financial Times, Ukraine’s interim prime minister says his country is entering its “most dangerous 10 days” since independence in 1991 and is struggling to counter pro-Russian separatists on the verge of taking over the industrialised eastern heartland.
Thousands gathered in Soweto’s enormous stadium for a lively memorial service celebrating Nelson Mandela’s life yesterday but much of the news focused on the behaviour of the attendees rather than on Madiba’s legacy.
The memorial event was overshadowed by the crowd’s hostile reaction to South African president Jacob Zuma, a historic handshake between US and Cuban leaders and shameless selfies as western leaders hogged the limelight. In a surreal turn of events, it emerged that the man interpreting the proceedings live on television for deaf viewers was a hoax.
Here are some reports and analysis on the significance of the day and the high jinks in the audience. Read more
Among all the many tributes to Nelson Mandela. the one I enjoyed most was the testimony of his daughter, Makaziwe, whose interview with the BBC was broadcast on Newsnight last night. That was because she spoke about Mandela as a man, rather than a mythical figure. Amidst her love and admiration, she was also able to acknowledge his flaws: the inevitable neglect of his family that came with devotion to the “struggle”; the emotional distance he maintained, even from his children, as an element of the personal strength that had allowed him to survive imprisonment.
That reminder that Nelson Mandela was a man, before he became a myth, was particularly interesting to me as the child of South African parents – who were students in Johannesburg in the 1950s, when Mandela was a vital figure in anti-apartheid politics. My father says he remembers seeing Mandela speak on campus at Wits University. Other key figures in the anti-apartheid struggle – Oliver Tambo, Joe Slovo and Steve Biko – later became family friends. Read more
♦ South Africa began a period of mourning for Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president, as the world joined the grieving for the beloved anti-apartheid hero. FT news editor Alec Russell looked at the meaning of the Madiba magic.
♦ When the US Congress wanted to oppose the South African regime with the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, Dick Cheney was among the Republicans who voted against it. He has said he doesn’t regret it: “The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organisation… I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.”
♦ Chinese citizens mourned Nelson Mandela, but also took to the Internet to ask awkward questions about their own human rights leaders.
♦ If the US Congress succeeds in striking a US budget deal in the coming days, it will cement Paul Ryan’s role as chief economic policy maker for the Republican party.
♦ General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the defence minister who led the coup against Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, has won the Time reader poll for person of the year – beating Miley Cyrus. Read more
In other markets, however, women have more of a presence in monetary policy. Outside of advanced economies, the list of women at the head of central banks is longer than the list of women on the ECB governing council (0).
Gill Marcus (Getty)
South Africa: Gill Marcus spent time in the UK as her parents were anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. She joined the ANC and worked for its department of information and publicity, then returned to South Africa after the ANC ban was lifted. She was appointed deputy minister of finance in 1996 and became deputy governor of the South African Reserve bank in 1999. After a few years working outside the central bank system, she was appointed governor in November 2009. In 2010 she said, “Developing countries are more conscious of women’s emancipation – we’ve all got better statistics in relation to gender than in the developed world.“Read more
When US President Barack Obama swept into a packed university auditorium at a campus in Soweto township and addressed his youthful audience, he spoke of a “more prosperous, more confident” Africa. It was, he said, “a region on the move.” He then handed over the baton to young Africans, giving them their chance to probe him at the “town hall”-style gathering at the “Young African Leaders Initiative.” And they did not disappoint.
They may have been addressing the world’s most powerful leader, a man whose election as the US’s first black president inspired a wave of optimism across the continent, but the youngsters from South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya – the birthplace of Obama’s father – showed few signs of nerves and certainly no deference. Rather they displayed an articulate confidence – one that reflects the aspirations of a youthful continent that is increasingly enjoying a more prominent role on the global stage. Read more
The “exclusive” footage by SABC, South Africa’s state broadcaster, was rich in content as the country’s top leaders chuckled to the background of clicking and flashing cameras.
There was President Jacob Zuma, his shirt undone at the neck, looking relaxed and carefree. His deputy in the ruling African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa, appeared equally jovial and casual.
But there was one major problem – the centrepiece of the clip, Nelson Mandela, looked anything but happy. Rather, the revered former liberation leader and South Africa’s first black president stared vacantly into the distance, frail and apparently unaware of the commotion around him.
The result was the unseemly spectacle of a bunch of politicians parading themselves around an old man lauded as a national treasure, causing a storm of outrage to erupt on social media.
“For the UK, the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s did mark the first sustained period since the 19th century when GDP per head rose more than in the other large European economies. Unfortunately, the post-crisis economic malaise, the high inequality, the persistent regional imbalances and the over-reliance on an unstable financial sector mar this success.”
2) SOCIETY Hugo Young was a political columnist for the Guardian from 1984 until 2003, and wrote a biography of Margaret Thatcher, One of Us. Two weeks before he died, in 2003, he wrote this piece about Thatcher and her legacy. The Guardian published it on Monday. Young praises Thatcher’s self-confidence, and how little she cared if people liked her – a quality he notes is markedly lacking in today’s politicians. But he worries about the change in British social attitudes that she fostered: Read more
The Brics started life as a marketing gimmick dreamt up by Goldman Sachs to promote emerging markets, but the notion has taken on a life of its own and this group of nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are now a formal organisation who have just met for their fifth summit. In this week’s podcast, Gideon Rachman is joined by Stefan Wagstyl, editor of beyondbrics, and Andrew England, South Africa correspondent, reporting from Durban, where the group has agreed to set up a Brics-led development bank. But do the Brics matter, what unites and divides these nations, and are we likely to still be discussing this group in ten years’ time?
America’s shale oil boom is now so big it is visible from space— night-time satellite images show North Dakota’s Bakken shale shining almost as brightly as Chicago. They highlight how development has outpaced investment in infrastructure that manages the unwanted associated gas released alongside oil production.
When Saudi religious police closed an educational exhibit of plaster dinosaurs, a Twitter hashtag #Dammam-Hayaa-Closes-Dinosaur-Show soon started generating theories about the reason for closure — an indication that the vigilantes might be heading the same way as the dinosaurs.
One year it even prompted speculation that the Sudanese-born philanthropist and pioneer of African telecoms had run out of money. He had not. Rather, the criteria for the award had to be stiff if it was to have any credibility on a continent with a long history of tyranny and mismanagement. The intent was not just to encourage personal integrity and conformity to democratic principles among African heads of state but to reward transformational leadership. So, it should be no surprise that there have been some fallow years like this one.
Moreover, when it comes to leadership there is a global deficit. If a similar prize had been on offer in Europe in the same period, it would been a struggle to find an irreproachable candidate. In three out of the six years since the Mo Ibrahim prize was launched there have been winners. For the most part, African leaders are more accountable now than they were. In some cases they have been instrumental in turning their countries around. Read more
Police surround fallen miners near the Marikana platinum mine on August 16 (AFP/GettyImages)
by Ruona Agbroko
Mining has always been a dangerous business. But the tragedy that unfolded last month in Marikana, South Africa, threw a new and harsh light on the lives of those who spend their days toiling in the dark. On August 16, 34 workers were killed and 78 were wounded when police opened fire during clashes over pay at a platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. The violence evoked painful memories of state brutality during the apartheid era, and prompted a debate around how much progress the country has made in tackling inequality. As South Africa produces about 80 per cent of the world’s platinum supply, the unrest continues to spook global commodities markets, pushing up platinum prices and dragging gold futures up too. Three weeks after the killings, crisis resolution talks have restarted, but will they succeed? And what will be the long term legacy of Marikana? Read more
with Gideon Rachman
About this blog
Across the globe: Gideon Rachman and his FT colleagues debate international affairs.
Gideon became chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times in July 2006. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. He also edited The Economist’s business and Asia sections.
His particular interests include American foreign policy, the European Union and globalisation.