Also: Ningizimu Afrika, Mzantsi Afrika, Af(o)rika Borwa, Suid-Afrika.
Officially: Republic of South Africa.
Seats of government: Tshwane/Pretoria; Kaapstad.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: The president is chosen by the National Assembly, which is elected by party-list proportional representation, with some provincial distribution. Parliament comprises the Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, chosen by provincial legislatures to reflect their own composition.
Governing party: African National Congress.
Head of government: Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC, president (since 2018).
Opposition parties: Democratic Alliance, led by Mmusi Maimane; Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema; Inkatha Freedom Party, led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Assessment: The ANC, beginning with first democratic president Nelson Mandela (1994-9), handled the transition from apartheid to democracy well, until recently. Progress, such as that on gay rights, has marked South Africa as exceptionally liberal for the region, and its use of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with white rule and its resistance contributed to a peaceful transition; but the ANC has also, worryingly, made an abortive attempt to subvert opposition control of Kaapstad, and elected Jacob Zuma as its president. The second ANC president, Thabo Mbeki (1999-2008), generally continued Mandela’s policies. The Zuma faction of the ANC behaves more like the corrupt empowered liberation movement common elsewhere in Africa, though Zuma presented a contrast to Mbeki’s worst policies: keeping Robert Mugabe in power in Zimbabhwe, and denying the viral origin of AIDS. After corruption charges against Zuma were dismissed, the ANC called for Mbeki to resign, and he agreed to do so. Kgalema Motlanthe, Zuma’s party deputy, was chosen by the ANC to serve as president until general elections. Mbeki supporters later left the ANC to form the Congress of the People. The 2009 election was won by the ANC, as expected, though falling short of a two-thirds majority in parliament; Zuma became president (2009-18). A general election in 2014 saw a shift towards opposition parties, but the ANC still won 62% of the vote. In 2017, Ramaphosa, then deputy president of the state, became president of the ANC; eventually the ANC pressured Zuma to resign, and Ramaphosa was voted in.
FH: 2-2, free. Econ: 7.91 (31), flawed democracy.
Updated: 2018 February 15.