Must-read tale of eventful SA politics

The A to Z of South African Politics was compiled and written by Kashiefa Ajam, Kevin Ritchie, Lebogang Seale, Janet Smith and Thabiso Thakali.
The A to Z of South African Politics was compiled and written by Kashiefa Ajam, Kevin Ritchie, Lebogang Seale, Janet Smith and Thabiso Thakali.
Image: Supplied

Twenty-five years into democracy, the political landscape in SA has been eventful and vast to keep up with.

But to understand the fast-paced political landscape over the last nine years, a group of journalists who at some point all worked at Independent Newspapers, put heads together to release a political reference book - the A-Z of South African Politics - a well-researched glossary of all political players spanning former president Jacob Zuma years in government to the present.

The book is a guide to influential people, political parties, social movements and power brokers that have shaped the democratic landscape and it's intended to deepen people's understanding of how politics work, who the key players are and why they matter.

The authors give their observation and interpretation to political events and jargon with a quirky take on the differences between "Mbaweezy", "Sha Sha", "the Minister of Broken Promises" and "uBaba kaDuduzane".

They use a glossary to help readers navigate the confusion about how McKinsey, Trillian and a bunch of corrupt individuals at Eskom fleeced the utility.

With more than 300 entries highlighting the power brokers and stars as well as those who are on their way down or captured, the book is a timeous survey of where SA is ahead of the elections in May.

Launched at Constitution Hill in Joburg last week, one of the authors, Lebogang Seale, said the last nine years had been compelling reasons to contribute to the book. Another of the contributors to the book, Thabiso Thakali, said putting together the book was a mammoth task. "Most of us took it for granted that as journalists you work on stories and follow politicians, [and that] reporting on institutions that continue to shape the democracy should be something that we could do with our eyes closed. But I think many of us were quite pleasantly surprised when we began the work," said Thakali.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela, who wrote the foreword, said she hoped it would spark interesting conversations. The book is the sixth edition of its kind with previous publications compiled by journalists from Mail & Guardian.

The A-Z of South African Politics is written and compiled by newspaper editor and former investigative journalist Kashiefa Ajam, former editor and award-winning journalist Kevin Ritchie, former editor and award-winning journalist Seale, former editor and award-winning author Janet Smith and Sowetan news editor and award-winning journalist Thakali.

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