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HSRC Press

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Who is in charge of South Africa? The question explored at the launch of State of the Nation 2016

Professor Muxe Nkondo and Professor Crain Soudien

State of the Nation 2016At the recent launch of State of the Nation 2016: Who is in Charge? Mandates, Accountability and Contestations in South Africa, published HSRC Press, one could not help but feel an immense sense of awe.

HSRC Press CEO Professor Crain Soudien and Professor Muxe Nkondo, one of the editors of the book, were in conversation.


This is the eighth edition of The State of the Nation, coming at a time when South Africans are asking who is really running the country. The editors, Daniel Plaatjies, Muxe Nkondo, Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Charles Hongoro, and Francis Nyamnjoh, address issues surrounding authority, capability and accountability.

Professor Crain Soudien
In his welcome speech, Soudien expressed the danger of using social media as a benchmark as it is not “a true reflection of the state of the nation”. He continued by saying that “the book contributes to a considered reflection of the state of the nation.” Through the book, HSRC Press aims to raise the level of public discussion because, according to Soudien, “talking to the state of the nation allows possibilities of developing and interpreting what is going on.”

Next to speak was Nkondo, who opened with a hard-hitting question: “How long can the ANC bank on its credentials?” He continued after a brief pause saying, “No radical change can be considered unless we factor in the feminist perspective.”

Nkondo expanded on this, saying that in order to fully understand who is in charge: “We need to sophisticate our capacity to deal with issues – there are more complex configurations [beyond black and white] that shape our narrative.”

Professor Muxe Nkondo


Nkondo ended off by responding to questions of accountability, arguing that, “social cohesion, justice, prosperity” are all things we strive for in a democracy without considering that “we want to achieve utopian outcomes that can [only] be progressively realised, never obtaining their full course”.

Soudien tied it all together saying: “The task of this book is to validate and affirm what is in front of us – not to criticise.”

Kasuba Stuurman (@kasuba_sun) tweeted live from the event:

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Book details

  • State of the Nation 2016: Who is in Charge? Mandates, Accountability and Contestations in South Africa edited by Daniel Plaatjies, Charles Hongoro, Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Muxe Nkondo, Francis Nyamnjoh
    EAN: 9780796925138
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