South Africa’s Ramaphosa Disappoints on Human Rights

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address to Parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2021 (pool photo by Esa Alexander via AP).
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address to Parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2021 (pool photo by Esa Alexander via AP).
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Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to the South African presidency in 2018 generated considerable optimism that his leadership would bring a more enlightened approach to policy, both domestic and foreign. His talk of a “new dawn” and his calls for a return to the values of Nelson Mandela represented an implicit repudiation of his two immediate predecessors, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In the case of the latter, Ramaphosa also promised an end to the rampant corruption and state capture that characterized Zuma’s decade in office. Human rights organizations viewed Ramaphosa’s presidency as an opportunity for a policy reset, and they encouraged […]

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