If the US can’t stop Trump, no wonder SA couldn’t halt Zuma

Ideas

If the US can’t stop Trump, no wonder SA couldn’t halt Zuma

Like the Zuma years, the US leader’s flagrant trampling of its institutions might just be too much to withstand

Columnist

Every time I am asked to compare the travails facing the US currently and the 10-year political nightmare faced by SA under Jacob Zuma, I trot out one answer.

My stock answer is this: the US can withstand a poor and even malevolent presidency because its institutions are old, entrenched and very strong. SA nearly collapsed under Zuma because its institutions, built up over just the past 25 years, are relatively young, fragile and a work in progress. They could not hold a strong, malevolent and cunning leader like Zuma to account. Many collapsed under his Machiavellian manipulation.

For the first time ever, this week I began to wonder how true this entire premise and my answers are. The reason is Donald Trump, the president of the US. The more I observe his actions and his trajectory the more I worry that he may be more powerful than even the hundreds-year-old American system. Why? How can this be?..

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