Mrs Escobar, Henao’s record of her years as the long-suffering wife of the world’s most infamous drug trafficker, opens with a question she has often been asked: ‘How could you sleep with that monster?’ Her answer is that she loved him, and, in retrospect, that she was too afraid to leave. Henao has lived with Escobar’s legacy far longer than she lived with Escobar, who was killed in 1993. She changed her name and the names of her children (Juan Pablo is now Sebastían, Manuela is Juana and she is María Isabel), fled Colombia, went into hiding and fought lawsuits, blackmail and media attacks.
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This article examines the rise of gatekeeper politics within the ANC, drawing on an analysis of ANC discussion documents, key informant interviews with senior party officials, and interviews and observations from the ANC’s centenary policy conference. On the basis of this material, I identify the symptoms and consequences of gatekeeper politics, including the growth of patronage networks, crony capitalism, and bitter factional struggles within the party. Rather than resembling some uniquely “African” form of political aberration and breakdown, gatekeeper politics should be viewed within a broader spectrum of patronage politics evident elsewhere in the world, because it is intrinsically bound up with the development of capitalism. Political leaders who occupy positions of authority in the party or public service act as gatekeepers by regulating access to the resources and opportunities that they control. A volatile politics of inclusion and exclusion emerges and provokes bitter factional struggles within the ANC as rival elites compete for power. The rise of gatekeeper politics undermines both the organizational integrity of the ANC and its capacity to deliver on its electoral mandate. It can also depoliticize social injustice in post-apartheid South Africa by co-opting popular struggles over access to resources that might otherwise challenge the political status quo.BACK TO TOP