How Long Will South Africa Survive? by R W Johnson - review by John Carlin

John Carlin

Rainbow’s End

How Long Will South Africa Survive?


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If you are looking for a celebration of the failure of the South African dream following the end of apartheid, this is the book for you. ‘What is now clear, just 20-odd years later and beyond any reasonable doubt,’ R W Johnson triumphantly asserts towards the book’s end, ‘is that “liberation” has failed, that the regime it has produced is quite incapable of governing South Africa as a free, democratic and functioning country.’

Such a verdict is entirely warranted by the evidence marshalled in the two-hundred-odd preceding pages, much of which is beyond dispute. Johnson, an emeritus fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, now resident in his native South Africa, offers a wealth of anecdotes and facts to support his claim that since Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) won power in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, holding onto it ever since, South Africa has been falling ‘prey to the criminalisation of the state’. 

We learn of police chiefs and even police constables who have abused their power to rack up large fortunes, buying Lamborghinis and spectacularly opulent homes; we are reminded of the fleet of luxury cars parked outside the venue of the ANC’s 2012 national conference; we are showered with evidence of

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