South African Power Groups Essay

1079 words - 4 pages

Efforts to Address the Problem
South Africa’s revolution was unique because it was neither an elite-imposed transition nor a classical revolution. Many analysts were surprised that a classical revolution hadn’t occurred sometime in the 1980s (Marx, 1997, 476-479). It is likely that there wasn’t a classical revolution because the military was still loyal to the dominant white group. Furthermore, whites controlled nearly all of the economic power, and as a result, blacks needed the white structure to stay in place to continue lest the economy crumble (p. 478). But, mounting pressure from citizens, a steadily weakening economy, and the international community caused the Afrikaners to reevaluate their position. An elite-imposed transition didn’t occur because the citizens of South Africa had mobilized to too great of an extent. The Afrikaners realized that a negotiated settlement was the only option if they didn’t want to face a thorough-going revolution (p. 478).
This negotiation process wasn’t particularly effective though. It was initially assumed that such a tactic would result in peaceful negotiations similar to those of Brazil (p. 479-480). The ANC promised to end the guerrilla violence that was causing thousands of people to die each year once the negotiations started (p. 481-482). Unfortunately, the perception that violence could enhance negotiating positions quickly grew, and by 1992 South Africa had become, “one of the most violent countries in the world” (p. 483). This violence lead to a situation in which ‘winner take all’ amendments to the constitution were rejected as being too inflammatory (p. 483). Clearly, this slowed down the process of integration. There are simply some parts of Apartheid that needed to be eliminated, but couldn’t be because of a fear of violence. In addition, the ANC gave up complete power in exchange for more immediate power (p. 482). One could make the argument that blacks negotiating away some of their power would be worth it to ensure a peaceful revolution. Unfortunately, that power was given up and South Africa still became a very violent place. This negotiated revolution simply wasn’t the most effective means of change.
The mobilization of disadvantaged groups in South Africa showed a desire to have their voice heard, but as Goetz stated, an amplified voice does not necessarily equal a change in policies or in the behavior of bureaucrats (2003). What is needed is change in the accountability institutions, i.e. police and judges (p. 34). The laws can be in place, and those advocating a position of equality can be very vocal, but those efforts don’t exceed anything other than an ideological function without some sort of enforcement. South Africa attempted to address this issue.
In 1995, South Africa passed the South African Police Service Act. It consolidated the previously separate police forces of each of its states and territories. This new force became known as the South African Police Service. It...

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