Zuma first brought to heel his party, Africa’s oldest and most revered liberation movement, subduing and isolating dissidents associated with his predecessor Thabo Mbeki. Then saw the emergence of the tenderpreneur and those attempting to capture the state, as well as a network of family, friends and business associates that has become so deeply embedded that it has, in effect, replaced many parts of government. Zuma opened up the state to industrial-scale levels of corruption, causing irreparable damage to state enterprises, institutions of democracy, and the ANC itself.
But it hasn’t all gone Zuma’s way. Former allies have peeled away. A new era of activism has arisen and outspoken civil servants have stepped forward to join a cross-section of civil society and a robust media. As a divided ANC square off for the elective conference in December, where there is everything to gain or to lose, award-winning journalists Adriaan Basson and Pieter du Toit offer a brilliant and up-to-date account of the Zuma era.