South Africa's political parties are a useless bunch

Ivor Sarakinsky, Ebrahim Fakir

Political parties in South Africa share a few distinct features and policy similarities. They might emphasise different aspects of it, based on their manifestos, but they are essentially variants offering more of the same.

They share other features too. They are internally divided, have weak leadership and their internal divisions affect their external relations. The overriding commonality, however, is the pursuit of power for its own sake, or the use of public power as a means to serve private ends.

Is this uniform elite-driven dynamic coincidental, or can it be explained?