Seminal work on the ANC's rise to power sheds light on today's problems
Many books have been written on South Africa's political transition, but none deals adequately with the so-called 'people's war' - until now
Memories of trauma have faded in the 25 years that have passed since South Africans were shot, hacked or burned to death in political conflict that claimed some 20,500 lives between 1984 and 1994.
Conventional wisdom claims that they died at the hands of a state-backed "Third Force". The more accurate explanation is that they died as a result of the "people’s war" unleashed by the ANC.
After the people’s war began in September 1984, intimidation and political killings rapidly accelerated.
At the same time, a remarkably effective propaganda campaign put the blame for violence on the National Party government and its alleged Inkatha surrogate.
Sympathy for the ANC soared, while its rivals suffered crippling losses in credibility and support.
By 1993, the ANC was able to dominate the negotiating process - as well as control the militarily undefeated police and army and bend them to its will.
By May 1994, it had trounced its rivals and taken over government.
Many books have been written on South Africa's political transition, but none deals adequately with the people's war.
This book does.
It shows the extraordinary success of the people’s war in giving the ANC a virtual monopoly on power, as well as the great cost at which this was done.
Apart from the terror and killings it sparked, the people’s war set in motion forces that still cannot be easily tamed today. Contemporary South Africa and the problems it confronts cannot be fully understood without a knowledge of the scars and damaging legacy of the people’s war.
For this new edition of her seminal work, originally published in 2009, Anthea Jeffery has revised and abridged her book. She has also included a brief overview of the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution (NDR), for which the people’s war was intended to prepare the way. Since 1994, the NDR has incrementally been implemented in various spheres. It is also now being speeded up in its current and more "radical" phase.
- Article provided by Jonathan Ball Publishers