What is it about?

Liberal democracy is not able to satisfy the socio-economic and political aspirations of many people in South Africa because it leaves control of the wealth and the legacy of racially-skewed ownership unchanged. South Africa has become the 'capital of protest in the world', insurgency is increasing. The solution is a fundamental change in the economic and political system.

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Why is it important?

My paper puts the agency of ordinary people, the working class and the poor, at the centre. It questions the quality of democracy rather than simply its mechanics. It reminds us of the generous and transcendental vision of democracy and the good society that inspired the anti-apartheid struggle and how it has been trampled upon.


The world is searching for answers as democratic systems become unstable, hollowed out and even ridiculous. The answer is not right-wing or even left-wing populism, it is to revisit, refurbish and revitalise the mostly discarded dreams of a socialist society where radical democracy, equality and sharing will predominate.

Trevor Ngwane
University of Johannesburg

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: ‘Insurgent Democracy’: Post-Apartheid South Africa’s Freedom Fighters, Journal of Southern African Studies, January 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2019.1548136.
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