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Ebrahim Harvey | A country broken and dysfunctional: Why we already have a 'failed state'

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A pothole on one of the roads in Johannesburg. (File/Gallo Images)
A pothole on one of the roads in Johannesburg. (File/Gallo Images)
Beeld/Felix Dlangamandla

Every state-owned enterprise is to a greater or lesser extent broken, broke and dysfunctional, and there is massive infrastructural decline. Ebrahim Harvey argues why he believes we are a "failed state".

The notion of a "failed state" has been raised many times in our political discourse over the past few years of the deeply troubled, unstable and indeed crisis-ridden rule of the African National Congress (ANC) government in South Africa. While the academics will continue to flog this conceptual notion as to when we can say we have a failed state or not, and the varied criteria upon which they make that decision, we need to approach this fundamental matter in our constitutional democracy differently, I argue.  

At the outset, the initial basis upon which I make this argument is our Constitution, which is highly regarded worldwide and heralded as very progressive. The key point of appraising the Constitution by the dismal socioeconomic results of its almost 26 years of existence is realistic and well-grounded. In this regard, I've argued many times that people do not live on a good and even otherwise great Constitution or the right to vote in free and fair democratic elections every five years, even if compared to the exclusionary and deeply racist apartheid past, it is undoubtedly a major advance. No, the success or failure of the Constitution and the state must be determined in relation to the material conditions of people's lives.  

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