On Friday Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America – despite having “lost” the election by almost 3 million votes to rival Hillary Clinton. In South Africa the President is – currently, at least – in effect selected by a few hundred or at most a few thousand political party insiders. Is it time to change this system or will a new era of coalition politics address the democratic deficit in the current system?

As the recent US presidential election demonstrated, an electoral system with competitive party primaries and a long and gruelling general election that (on paper) may seem relatively open and democratic may nevertheless produce an appalling and unpopular result. (There is, after all, no vaccine for bigotry and hatred.) Recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans now disapprove of Donald Trump – even though a US President elect has historically enjoyed a honeymoon period in which he (it has always been a he) has enjoyed widespread support from the electorate. (more…)

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Quote of the week

Apartheid-era sleaze, especially during the sanctions period, ushered in a series of financial crimes of Bon Jovi ballad proportions. That billions were stolen have never been much of a secret, but nailing downright villains has always been a challenge. The uncynical view is that former finance minister Trevor Manuel and his advisors were under the impression that chasing the missing cash would destroy the delicate green shoots of the post-apartheid economy – a decision that, like so many back in those days, dispensed with justice in favour of “stability”. The more cynical view is that the ANC cut a deal with the apartheid scum, one that traded cover-ups on pre-changeover crimes for help on perpetrating post-changeover heists.

Richard Poplak
Daily Maverick
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