Nelson Mandela’s death leaves political South Africa without any living moral compass. Symbolically, but tellingly, President Jacob Zuma was roundly booed when he spoke at Mandela’s memorial service. The country’s vibrant media carry constant stories about the declining popularity of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Mandela’s party and the nation’s historical liberation movement.
Even committed ANC supporters are appalled by the seemingly endless and all-encompassing corruption of their party, their leader, politicians in general and the nation at large. No day goes by without reports in the press of one or another ANC luminary’s attempt to benefit financially from his or her position. Whether it is tenders awarded suspiciously and the rumour of large multimillion-dollar kickbacks, spouses or relatives of high functionaries being discovered on ministerial or other payrolls, or wild expenditures on automobiles, fortified houses (such as Zuma’s new $25-million mansion in a small village in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal), travel perks or other lavish shenanigans, state funds are allegedly being allocated and expended improperly each day.