South Africa Faces Leadership Challenges In Coming Year

South Africa May Benefit From A Weakened African National Congress
South Africa has entered into a period of national mourning following the death of Nelson Mandela, but it does so as a nation very different from the one Mandela led.

Anne Applebaum says Mandela’s death will force South Africans to confront the reality of the nation’s challenges and to consider that the African National Congress may not be the best party to lead the nation forward.

“But although it might be uncomfortable, his death should cause South Africans to look critically at the state he helped create and, above all, at the ANC, the party he led. If South Africans really want to honor Mandela’s memory, they should deepen South Africa’s democracy, and vote for somebody else,” she writes in Slate.

South Africa’s unions have stepped up into the vacuum left by Mandela to call for an end to “economic apartheid,” a theme which may be their rallying cry in next year’s elections. According to the Voice of America, the disparity between blacks and whites has grown larger over the past 12 years, with white-led households earning almost double the amount earned by blacks.

South African Trade Union spokesman Patrick Craven called for the nation to unite behind an effort to improve worker rights saying the “best way to honor the memory of Nelson Mandela is to try as far as possible to emulate what he did in the next stage of struggle.”

William Gumede also sees labor unions emerging and sees the dissolution of the ANC’s power as an advantage in the long run.

“This could be good news for the country’s democracy. South Africa’s existing political party system is not fit for purpose. The old parties – the ANC and those of the opposition – are so steeped in pre-apartheid political cultures that they are wholly inappropriate as instruments to deepen the infant democracy. Recently, there have been a number of small breakaway parties from either the ANC or the existing opposition parties. However, most of them, too, are inadequate. While most of the ANC’s disillusioned black supporters are to the party’s political left, all the opposition parties and the parties formed after 1994 are to the ANC’s right, and therefore irrelevant to ANC members looking for a new political home,” he argues.

US Doing Poor Job Promoting Democracy
For generations one of the key goals of American foreign policy was to promote democracy throughout the world. While it remains a goal, in recent years the nation has not experienced many successes, says Zachary Keck.

“At the same time, the U.S. has become less successful at promoting democracy in the post-Cold War era. Consider that, throughout the course of the Cold War, nearly all of Western Europe and Eastern Asia became shining examples of democracy. By contrast, America’s experiments in democracy today are more likely to end in anarchy than democracy.

“Some may attribute the divergent outcomes to the fact that in today’s world, America’s democracy promotion often takes place in war-ravished countries with no history of democratic governments. There may be some truth to this, which suggests the U.S. should take more care in selecting the countries where it seeks to promote democracy. Still, the argument is ultimately unpersuasive. After all, few places were as ravished by war following WWII than Europe and Asia. And while some countries in Europe had experience with democratic governments, surely this was not the case in places like South Korea and Taiwan.”

Globalization’s Impact On The United States In 2013
Huffington Post has compiled a list of five ways globalization has changed the US in 2013.

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