A lesson in political evolution from South Africa

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has penned a very thoughtful, balanced and personally honest article arguing that South African politics has a number of very real problems:

The ANC was very good at leading us in the struggle to be free from oppression. They were a good freedom-fighting unit. But it doesn't seem to me now that a freedom-fighting unit can ­easily make the transition to becoming a political party.
And, unfortunately, we do have a weakness in our Constitution. It was important for our transition that we had proportional representation, so people were voting not for a particular candidate but for a party. We still have that system. The party that wins decides who will be its representatives, so everybody wants to get on to the party list.
You do not want to jeopardise your chances by being what you ought to be as a Member of Parliament – someone who ensures that the executive is accountable to the legislature.
Note, Lib Dems, that he's rejecting PR in favour of something more like a first-past-the-post system. Definitely go read the whole thing. I have a lot of time for Desmond Tutu, and am encouraged that he's pushing South Africans to consider fixing some of the problems their society has.

I also find it interesting that he addresses directly the Chinese influence in Africa:

China has brought a lot of benefits to Africa, with the investments it has made and the building of infrastructure, but it has come at a cost. In South Africa, a lot of people in the textile industry have been thrown out of work because the country has been flooded with cheap Chinese goods. But what has been even more distressing for me is how our country has seemed to kowtow to Beijing.
A glaring example is what they did with the Dalai Lama, when the South African government dilly-dallied with his visa so that he couldn't come to my birthday.
I remember that occasion - Tutu and the Dalai Lama ended up on a video conference because the Chinese government pressured the South African government not to grant the Dalai Lama a visa. It was amusing to see how terrified the Chinese government must be of the Dalai Lama, and doubly so because a meeting of limited news interest became a major news event. Talk about an own goal...

I have been wondering just what effects the widespread Chinese economic and political investments in Africa are intended to bring. Access to mineral resources is obvious, but they seem to be taking an unhealthy interest in ensuring African governments bend to their whims. It seems unhealthy.

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