Imraan Coovadia

All articles by this author

The Party Had Been Perfectly Correct on Every Issue

The Party Had Been Perfectly Correct on Every Issue

The end of the Zuma years

The global scandal of Donald Trump, like Zuma highly promiscuous and a figure of the grotesque and the laughable, has yielded much useful reflection on democracy, including the fact that the problem of love in politics is more complicated than it had seemed. The unattractiveness of Zuma and Trump is inscribed in everything from their ungainly physical presence to their ugly habits of casual lying and worse. Zuma’s rise was hindered neither by his having driven a wife to suicide nor by the charge of having raped the daughter of one of his close friends. The ruling party’s Women’s League demonstrated outside his friend’s daughter’s rape trial under a singular banner—“Burn the Bitch”—and, by some stroke of fortune, the victim’s house was indeed burnt down and she was forced into exile: one of the many occasions on which sections of the public have made clear their identification with the abuser. He bankrupted the country while reducing his party to a criminal enterprise. Yet he had no apparent charisma on Robben Island where, during the ten years of his imprisonment, he received not a single visitor.

Unsatisfactory Closure

Unsatisfactory Closure

After Jacob Zuma

Cyril Ramaphosa’s triumph makes for unsatisfactory closure, given his long silence as Zuma’s deputy, and the holdovers elected along with him to run the ruling party, not to say the dual centers of power in the party and the presidency which will likely persist until the 2019 general election. Ramaphosa lacks (or seems to lack) the psychological strangeness of his predecessors, Zuma and before him Thabo Mbeki, who were often in the grip of destructive and self-destructive political passions. He nevertheless embodies the contradictions of the society, being at once the most successful trade unionist on the continent and, as a mining executive, the face most associated with the police killing of mineworkers at Marikana on August 16, 2012.

The Tax Man

The Tax Man

Pravin Gordhan and South Africa

The interest of Pravin Gordhan’s career lies not in its exemplary decency, but in a more complicated problem that confronts citizens of many countries: how to maintain one’s honesty when forced to act in close proximity to corruption? And another question from political science: are there situations for which democracy is no cure?

A Broken Window

A Broken Window

Jadwat was unreliable. It hadn’t been true then. There had been no rain at her wedding. Today there was no sunshine. The reservoir of these tears had accumulated in the course of a difficult year. If she was distracted while driving, or couldn’t add two numbers together, or misplaced the key to her surgery, the tears found their way to the surface. They embarrassed her.