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South Africa is not ready to lead Africa

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On February 9, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa assumed the presidency of the African Union (AU) at a summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There he made mention of a "new epoch of governance and leadership in Africa", and vowed that "South Africa will play its part to deepen the review processes, and upscale the implementation of actions needed to improve governance" through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

However, this magnificent projection of political intent rang very hollow. A decade and a half ago, South Africa would have eased into the role of big brother, secure in the strides it had taken to promote human rights, democracy and good governance within its borders and beyond. Then, South Africa stood head and shoulders above the rest of Africa. It exuded a seemingly impregnable impression of relatively clean governance, strong economic growth and an exemplary, progressive human rights culture.

However, present-day South Africa stands in stark contrast to this promising past. The southern African nation is blighted by endemic corruption at state-owned establishments, poor service delivery, high unemployment and xenophobic violence towards mainly African and Asian migrants and refugees. South Africa is increasingly displaying many of the characteristically post-independence failures that have crippled development across Africa.

The tacit moral leadership and diplomatic momentum South Africa enjoyed in the late 1990s and early 2000s have dissipated, possibly irretrievably. Its failures at home seem to hold........

© Al Jazeera