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Jacobin Radio South Africa, Ep. 3

What happened to the African National Congress?

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In last month’s South African elections, the African National Congress was returned to power with some 62% of the vote. The opposition Democratic Alliance increased their share to around 22% and newcomer Economic Freedom Fighters managed to obtain 6%.

The ANC clearly has a strong mandate to govern, but this has to be seen in the context of seeing its support base shrink, along with a record low turnout. Meanwhile the country is being described by its indigenous punditry as being amid a “Winter of Discontent” as the platinum industry has seen the longest strike in the history of the country, and metalworkers prepare to embark on a even larger strike in July.

This episode examines the history of multi-racialism and non-racialism, ideas which still frame the political conversation in South Africa and are key to understanding articulations of race, nation, and class. In order to examine why the ANC behaves the way it does and why post-apartheid South Africa has taken the trajectory it has, one has to journey back into the intellectual history of the liberation movement and its interlocutors.

Joining me for this episode is McGill University historian Jon Soske. Jon Soske’s work focuses on the intellectual history of South Africa, India, and Turkey. He is also a contributor to Africa is A Country and the Chimurenga Chronic.