Dangerous elites: protest, conflict and the future of South Africa

Rather than a revolt of the poor, rising conflict is likely the result of revolts in the ANC.

The African National Congress’ failure to manage elite contestation in its ranks since 2007 has seen tensions spilling out, often as ‘service delivery’ protests. Former president Jacob Zuma controlled this infighting, largely through patronage and repression. The sharp rise in protests from the end of 2017 suggests that President Cyril Ramaphosa does not seek nor have the same autocratic power as his predecessor. Instead he's trying to manage internal party disputes within the constitutional framework by rebuilding institutions weakened through state capture.

About the authors

Ivor Chipkin is the Director of the Government and Public Policy Think-Tank. Jelena Vidojević is Programme Head for International, Comparative Policy at the Government and Public Policy Think-Tank. Laurence Rau is Head of Technology at SafePassage and CEO of Emerge. Danny Saksenberg is Head of Finance at SafePassage and Executive Director of Emerge.

Image: © Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

Development partners
This report is funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The ISS is also grateful for support from the members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the European Union, the Open Society Foundations and the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
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