We picked six of the best political books of 2017.
JOHANNESBURG - Explosive revelations and evidence of wrongdoing emerged in books published in South Africa this year, including corruption at state institutions and in the current government, but also the rot that permeated the apartheid government. However, there have also been stories of hope and inspiration.
Here are the top six political books from South Africa for 2017:
1. Jacques Pauw – The President’s Keepers (NB Publishers/Tafelberg)
The veteran journalist’s explosive revelations about the rot at the State Security Agency (SSA), the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Revenue Service resulted in the book being sold out within days of publication.
Sales have been fuelled by the SSA’s threat to ban the book. Pauw, the publisher and booksellers remain defiant and tens of thousands more copies have been printed.
2. Redi Thlabi – Khwezi – The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo (Jonathan Ball)
Well-known radio personality Redi Thlabi’s book about Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo revealed the harrowing and inspirational story about the woman who was vilified after she accused then-deputy president Jacob Zuma of rape.
For years she was known only as Khwezi, but after her death in October 2016, her name was made public. Thlabi’s biography is also an in-depth examination of rape culture and power relations, something the justice system does not consider. Thlabi also reveals for the first time how prominent ANC members tried to pressure Kuzwayo to abandon her case against Zuma.
3. Pieter-Louis Myburgh – The Republic of Gupta - A Story of State Capture (Penguin Random House)
Why did the Guptas come to South Africa? How did they manage to ingratiate themselves with key politicians and executives at state institutions in such a way that they managed to capture large parts of government and state-owned entities? Journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh answers these questions in his book about the influential family.
He also reveals more details about numerous incidents.
4. Hennie van Vuuren - Apartheid Guns and Money - A Tale of Profit (Jacana)
Corruption isn’t just rife in post-apartheid South Africa; malfeasance and rot permeated the government pre 1994 as well. In this meticulously-researched book, anti-corruption activist Hennie van Vuuren examines, among other things, the role of the big banks in economic exploitation during apartheid; how money was laundered for the South African Defence Force to secretly move over R500-billion (current value) for covert defence projects and weapons in violation of apartheid-era sanctions; and how a covert network of over 50 countries, including big powers and sworn enemies, was constructed to counter sanctions and illegally supply guns to Pretoria.
These crimes continue to haunt South Africa.
5. Thandeka Gqubule - No Longer Whispering to Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela (Jonathan Ball)
One of the most revered figures in South Africa, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela tells her story to veteran journalist and member of the so-called SABC 8, Thandeka Gqubule. Madonsela discusses her term in office and some of the challenges she faced. She wasn’t always the fearless figure who has stood up to corruption and whispered truth to power. Gqubule also explores how Madonsela – a shy and awkward child – became one of the most powerful and respected women in the country.
6. Jessica Pitchford - Blood on their Hands: General Johan Booysen Reveals his Truth (Pan MacMillan SA)
Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen’s story is referenced several times in Pauw’s book and he recommends it for readers who want further details on how elements aligned to Zuma within the NPA and Hawks conspired to get rid of those who stood up to corruption.
The title refers to the ruthless and rotten figures who have prevented the prosecution of gangsters and corrupt politicians, resulting in them literally having blood on their hands.