South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) party is on the way out, global social theorist Immanuel Wallerstein wrote on 15 August.
This can be told in the outcome of municipal elections, which show the ANC on the run. Marred by corruption scandals, the old party of the country's anti-apartheid struggle is losing support across a whole spectrum of ethnic and political elements in the country.
Wallerstein asks his readers rhetorically, "what next?" In addition to the above corruption scandal and the overall economic difficulty the country has run into, there is also "the fact that twenty years after the end of apartheid, no significant program of return of Blacks to land ownership has been enacted, and the ANC did not seem to seek to move forward on this issue".
One party that is pushing the land ownership issue, however, is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by the controversial but charismatic Julius Malema. "The EFF performed better than expected" in recent municipal elections, Wallerstein points out, "obtaining more than 10% in several cities".
Malema's EFF uses a "combination of left language and xenophobic pressures" that "has been successful in several former Communist countries in East and Central Europe", and could also persuade many in South Africa.
Wallerstein concludes, "South Africa has now shifted from a democratic model that it has claimed to be, to being a center of internal turmoil of a sort that might be difficult to label as democratic".
The BRICS countries relied on South Africa's membership and wealth as as proof they "are truly concerned with Africa, the poorest continent", Wallerstein observes. BRICS could therefore be severely undermined as a bloc by South African economic setbacks.
Full analysis: South Africa's ANC is Slipping Away
A decline in South Africa's economic status could, in combination with Libya's destruction by NATO, seal Africa's fate as the continent of unrelenting poverty from its northernmost coasts to its southernmost cape.