Terence Corrigan

Terence Corrigan is an independent researcher, political consultant, writer, editor and illustrator. He is currently a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in its Governance and African Peer Review Mechanism Programme and a policy fellow at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).

“They’re useless, all of them,” hissed Sam (not his real name) across the table. “Messed it up completely.” Sam and I were at a popular Rosebank eatery, catching up after not seeing each other for some years. We’d first met back in the 1990s. He’d come of age in the 1980s, during which time he had been a youthful anti-apartheid activist (he was “coloured”, though vociferously rejected that moniker). He had joined the ANC shortly after its unbanning in 1990. You wouldn’t think so now. His assessment of the state of Gauteng’s cities was laced with venom. He described one…

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South Africa’s power crisis has become one of the defining features of its present and a window onto its prospects. Both an expression of the deep-seated pathologies afflicting the country and a contributor to them, the failure of Eskom, the state utility company, to supply the needs of the country is a chilling warning of what the future may hold.   For a country in which half of the population is estimated to live in poverty of one degree or another, with a third of the working-age population unemployed and economic performance lethargic for the past 15 years and well…

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Elephants are a wonderful metaphor, not least in Africa. The largest land-based animals on earth, they are an unmissable presence in any environment. And so, when something looms large and intrusive – and is perhaps deliberately ignored – it is “the elephant in the room”. Where powerful forces contend for dominance in disregard of those around them, it evokes the comment that “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. Governance in South Africa has come increasingly to resemble that devastated savannah. South Africa is planted over with an array of public institutions – invariably with “developmental” mandates –…

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Heritage: the long shadows of past and present Commemorating heritage in Africa is no longer the exclusive province of governments There was an interesting exchange between Thabo Mbeki and Constand Viljoen in the late 1990s. The former was an aristocrat of an African liberation movement who would become South Africa’s president, and the latter was the chief of the country’s apartheid-era defence force, a soldier’s soldier and politician. Both had a keen sense of the manner in which the past echoes into the present. Responding to a rancorous debate on white settlement in the country, Viljoen objected that his forebears…

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Religion is a deeply rooted aspect of Africa’s cultural life and there is nothing to suggest that this will change in the foreseeable future There is no disputing the importance of religion to African life. In 2010, the Pew Forum on Religion and Life reported that Africa led the world in religious adherence. Religion played a deep, viscerally important role in people’s day to day lives and in their world view. It was not uncommon for as many as 90% of respondents to report that religion was important to them. Around half of Christians looked forward to the return of…

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