Exploring the Complexities of South Africa’s Democracy

October 24, 2018
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm



A Book Launch Celebration


  • Judith February, Author, Turning and Turning: Exploring the Complexities of South Africa’s Democracy  and Senior Research Associate, Institute for Security Studies, South Africa

With comments from:

  • Dave Peterson, Senior Director, Africa Program, National Endowment for Democracy

Moderated by:

  • Zerxes Spencer, Senior Manager for Fellowship Programs, National Endowment for Democracy


About the event

When apartheid fell in 1994, it ushered in a new era of constitutional democracy in South Africa. Many analysts hoped that the country’s democratic promise would be realized and that the country would represent a bright spot on a continent better known for war, underdevelopment and poor governance, and natural and man-made tragedies. However, nearly 25 years later and amidst a democratic downturn across the globe, South Africans often remain deeply polarized along the lines of race, class, and ethnicity. Jacob Zuma’s presidency—marked by severe levels of corruption and state capture—exacerbated these tensions, and placed enormous pressure on South Africa’s democratic institutions. New President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a “new dawn” and has initiated wide-spread anti-corruption reforms, but this will not be an easy road. South Africa’s democracy and economy remain under pressure. Please join us as author and analyst Judith February discusses what went wrong in South Africa and what corrective measures are required to get its democracy back on course.


about the speakers

Judith February is a senior research associate at the Institute for Security Studies and a visiting fellow at the WITS School of Governance in South Africa. She previously served as the executive director of the Human Sciences Research Council’s Democracy and Governance unit and as head of IDASA’s South African governance programme for nine years. In 2012, she was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. February is a regular columnist for Daily Maverick, Eyewitness News and other publications, as well as a frequent commentator on politics on radio and television.

Dave Peterson is the senior director of the Africa program at the National Endowment for Democracy. Since 1988, Peterson has been responsible for NED’s program to identify and assist hundreds of African non-governmental organizations and activists working for democracy, human rights, free press, justice, and peace. He was formerly executive director of Project South Africa of the A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, and a freelance journalist in Africa and Turkey.


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