Raymond Suttner: Zuma period: Depoliticised but distinct character

When I said that the current period in SA politics is depoliticised

I am not saying that there is not a distinct character attached to SA and the ANC under Zuma. At the centre of this period I would put patriarchy and this may make some people uncomfortable because they see gender and feminism as issues that concern women and only some precious men. But like it or not if you want to understand the current crisis and the character of the political order you need to do some work on gender. Hyperpatriarchy, an extreme version of patriarchy is a central feature of this period

The overall alliance with which the ANC rules has been reconfigured in a way that raises the status of traditional leaders who are generally highly patriarchal and homophobic, as are the charismatic churches with whom they are now allied. All of this is bad news for gender and sexual freedom activists. What this signifies and we have seen demonstrated is that gender and sexuality rights do not enjoy the same status as other rights in the Bill of Rights and are enforced unevenly and weakly.

But patriarchy links with notions of masculinity, where ‘real men’ are tough and rough and this feeds into the violence that runs right through SA society and is manifested in reacting to protests over basic needs with use of excessive force, massacres like Marikana and also in evicting opposition from parliament.

There is the lawlessness and the attack on constitutionalism, the undermining of key institutions in order to curb investigations into wrongdoing. So it has a distinct character that is partially articulated here.

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