South Africa in its most difficult year

South Africa faces its most difficult year since the end of Apartheid, as both its economy and soul hang in the balance.

 

Post-Apartheid South Africa is in the midst of its most difficult year. Its most beleaguered year, and the outcome is truly uncertain. A year that began in the early hours of Saturday, 8 June, when the elderly Nelson Mandela was rushed to hospital with a lung infection. A year that will end in June of 2014, or perhaps some weeks earlier, with South Africa’s fifth democratic general elections. No precise date for them has yet been set. Three competing factors have essentially led to these collective difficulties. The first is the inevitable physical and mental decline of the father of the nation, the liberator of South Africa, who turned 95 in July. Mandela is back home now, but he’s still receiving treatment and can only breathe with a respirator.

After serving as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, Mandela deliberately withdrew from all political duties, to avoid hindering his successors from governing the nation. Fifteen years have passed since then, but the prospect of the impending death of the father of the Republic afflicts all South Africans, because Mandela to this day embodies unity, a conciliatory spirit among the country’s diverse ethnic and social factions. Many fear that, without him, this unity will disintegrate. There are already plenty of instances of disintegration, and this is the second, extremely dire problem.

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