Democracy’s everyday death: South Africa's quiet coup
Nigel Gibson and Raj Patel
2009-10-08, Issue 451
You don’t need presidential palaces, or generals riding in tanks, or even the CIA to make a coup happen. Democracy can be overthrown with far less pomp, fewer props and smaller bursts of state violence. But these quieter coups are no less deadly for democracy.
At the end of September, just such a coup took place in South Africa. It wasn’t the kind involving parliament or the inept and corrupt head of the ANC (African National Congress), Jacob Zuma. Quite the opposite. It involved a genuinely democratic and respected social movement, the freely elected governing committee of the shack settlement at Kennedy Road in Durban. And this peaceful democracy was overthrown by the South African government.