TIME South Africa

South Africa’s Ruling ANC Looks to Learn from Chinese Communist Party

Then-South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last year. Motlanthe has been announced as the principal of the planned ANC leadership school.
Then-South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last year. Getty Images

The party of Nelson Mandela has chosen the site for a new school that will be based on Chinese Communist Party political education

Most South Africans don’t visit Venterskroon, a former gold-mining town, unless they are going there on vacation. It was the site of an inconclusive battle between the British and the Boers in 1900 but today the handful of mostly white landowners harvest pecan nuts or raise cattle while vacationers trek in the bush and fish in the Vaal River.

But the sleepy Afrikaner village is about to be transformed. It is slated to become the home of the African National Congress’ (ANC) new political leadership school, a project inspired and financed by the Communist Party of China, a burgeoning partnership of ruling parties on different continents that is causing concern in South Africa and beyond.

The ANC Political School and Policy Institute, which will include a swimming pool, halls, a fitness center, a pharmacy and a small shopping center, is due to be built on what is now a farm, which the ANC bought in 2010. Construction has been postponed while funding and planning issues are addressed.

The ANC says the institute will be modelled on the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong in Shanghai, one of the Communist Party’s leadership and governance schools where party members and foreign guests attend classes on “revolutionary traditions,” learning everything from Marxist theory to media management.

In July, a Chinese delegation led by Tian Xuejun, China’s ambassador to South Africa, travelled to Venterskroon to see the site. They met with ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe and Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture and the ANC’s Chairman of Political Education, to discuss $75 million in funding. (The Chinese embassy in South Africa did not respond to requests for comment.)

“We’ve been talking to people around the world, our friends; the Communist Party of China is one of those,” says Mthethwa. “We said to them, ‘Now look, we know that you have a political school, how did you start it?'”

The ANC’s courting of China has caused concern in the West. “In the worst case scenario, Chinese money in significant amounts and influence could tip the ANC in the wrong direction,” says Peter Pham, Africa analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council. “With the ANC being the way it is, if there is a heavy hand in the support, potentially it could result in shifts in governmental policy.”

The domination of South African politics by the ANC, and its members, known as cadres, can make South Africa seem like a one-party state, says Patrick Heller, international studies professor at Brown University. “Like any party in power for too long — the ANC has won every election since 1994 with over 60% of the vote — the ANC has amassed a tremendous amount of power. That power is increasingly centralized. That party itself is increasingly less accountable,” says Heller. “It’s hard to think of any better example of a cadre-based political party than the Chinese Communist Party but it’s the wrong model because at the end of the day it’s an authoritarian one,” he says. “Developing close personal relationships between the ANC and the Communist Party of China means you’re basically greasing the wheels and making it easier for the Chinese state and Chinese entrepreneurs. That is definitely not good. You want good bureaucratic management of these issues, not crony capitalism.”

As far as China is concerned, says Alexander Beresford, African politics lecturer at the University of Leeds, funding the ANC’s political school does not violate its non-interference policy, as the relationship is at a party-to-party level. “It’s not necessarily regular state-to-state relationships, Pretoria to Beijing style, but having other channels of influence,” says Beresford. “Exploiting these party-to-party channels gives it a strategic advantage over Western powers.”

China has been reaching out to ruling parties in other African countries also. In his book China and Africa: A Century of Engagement, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn chronicles how China has offered political education training for parties including Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF and Namibia’s SWAPO. “It is provided at the request of African ruling parties,” says Shinn. “They may still prefer elements of Marxist-Leninist organizational structure, or at a minimum, the once-popular philosophy of African socialism.” The arrangement is usually an exclusive one. “China does not provide similar training for African opposition political parties,” says Shinn. In return, China wins friends and favors, he says, gaining “influence at the highest levels of government.”

The school is part of a bigger ANC strategy to counter the widespread corruption and nepotism the party has seen since Nelson Mandela was elected the country’s first black president in 1994. The ANC declared 2013-2023 the “decade of the cadre,” with the goal of putting every party member through some kind of political school. “Every cadre of the movement must have integrity for our people to have confidence,” said Mantashe in a 2013 ANC newsletter. “We must be bold in dealing with deviant behaviour.”

Whether the political training will help South Africa and other African governments end corruption in government is a different question. China has a network of political schools and yet it is still experiencing massive graft scandals involving senior officials.

The ANC is prepared to take that risk. And it will do so no matter what its critics say. The ANC’s partnership with China’s Communist Party, Mthethwa says, is its own business: “Nobody will dictate to us who our friends are.”

TIME portfolio

Go Behind the Scenes of Africa’s Fashion Shows

During his 25-year-long career, Swedish photographer Per-Anders Pettersson has covered a wide range of international news events: hunger in Ethiopia, civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana and South Africa. His pictures won praise and awards. But it wasn’t until he embarked on photographing fashion shows in Africa that he found his beat.

In the last four years, Pettersson has photographed close to 30 shows in Africa, gaining full-access usually by virtue of becoming a familiar face.

“Partly [why] I jumped into this was because I’ve done so many of the normal African stories for so many years,” Pettersson tells TIME, referring to his previous work on the continent. “The feel-good African story fascinates me.”

Pettersson’s images are not only set to challenge stereotypes in African fashion, which include animal prints and ethnic designs, but are also meant to confront the “Western gaze,” a media misperception in which Africa is but a war-torn continent rampant with poverty, diseases and ethnic conflicts.

Back in 2009, Pettersson had originally set out to photograph Africa’s new middle and upper class, a fast-growing population in recent years that had attracted little media attention. He received an assignment to photograph a fashion show in Johannesburg, where he thought he’d find some subjects for Rainbow Transit, a photo book on daily life in South Africa after the nation’s democratization.

Pettersson was immediately drawn to this world of fashion: glamorous models in color-rich fabrics, elegant catwalks, and the people he had come to find: well-dressed locals at fancy after-parties. Ever since, he has been documenting the boom of Africa’s fashion industry.

“I feel the story is not only about fashion but also about the new growth in Africa,” he says.

Although South Africa is the capital of Africa’s fashion scene and runs six fashion weeks a year, Pettersson says that more shows are popping up throughout the continent – a sign that Africa’s economy is developing and people’s buying power are growing.


Per-Anders Pettersson is a Swedish photojournalist who has been documenting Africa for the past 20 years. Read LightBox’s piece on his book, RainBow Transit, published by Dewi Lewis in 2013.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at Time.com. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 13

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. As separatists and Russian troops chip away at its sovereignty, Ukraine struggles with corruption while hunting heat for the coming winter.

By Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg View

2. Leading by example: One Silicon Valley superstar has put tech’s pernicious racism in his crosshairs.

By J.J. McCorvey in Fast Company

3. The most important element of the U.S.-China climate deal might be that China has stepped away from its go-it-alone approach on climate.

By Michael Levi at the Council on Foreign Relations

4. Is the next frontier of mesh networks — like the one that linked protestors in Hong Kong — serving news?

By Susan E. McGregor at NiemanLab

5. Lessons from the Bulungula Incubator: Zeroing in on poverty at the most basic level can catalyze community change — and transforms lives.

By Réjane Woodroffe in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME South Africa

Pistorius Prosecutors File Appeal Papers

(STELLENBOSCH, South Africa) — Prosecutors say they have filed appeal papers against the verdict and sentence in the Oscar Pistorius case.

The prosecution is appealing against Judge Thokozile Masipa’s decision to acquit Pistorius of murder for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Masipa instead found the Olympic runner guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter.

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority says it filed initial appeal papers Tuesday — exactly two weeks after the double-amputee athlete was sentenced to five years in prison for killing Steenkamp.

Prosecutors must first apply to Judge Masipa for permission to appeal against the verdict and sentence she decided on.

Prosecutors have said they believe Pistorius should have been found guilty of murder. He would face a minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted of murder on appeal.

TIME South Africa

South African Prosecutors to Appeal Oscar Pistorius Sentence

Oscar Pistorius Is Tried For The Murder Of His Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius sits in the Pretoria High Court on September 11, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Phill Magakoe—Getty Images

Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide in the 2013 shooting death of his girlfriend

Prosecutors will appeal Oscar Pistorius’ culpable homicide conviction and five-year prison sentence, South African officials said Monday. Judge Thokozile Masipa had cleared Pistorius of murder but found him guilty of culpable homicide, a charge similar to manslaughter, for the Valentine’s Day killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Prosecutors had asked for the athlete to serve a decade behind bars but Masipa, in handing down her sentence last week, described five years as “fair and just both to society and to the accused.”

The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa said in a statement Monday that its team had been…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Soccer

South Africa’s Soccer Captain Senzo Meyiwa Has Been Shot Dead

Australia South Africa Soccer Mayiwa Obit
In this file photo dated May 26, 2014, South Africa's goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa makes a diving save against Australia during their friendly soccer match in Sydney Rick Rycroft—AP

Armed men entered a house where Meyiwa was staying, but the motive remains unclear

South African national soccer captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was fatally shot on Sunday by armed men who broke into the house where he was residing.

Two gunmen entered the house, located in the Vosloorus township near Johannesburg, while an accomplice waited outside, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities said there were seven people in the house at the time of the shooting, which reportedly came after an “altercation.” A motive for the murder remains unclear.

Meyiwa, 27, played for South African soccer club Orlando Pirates and also captained the national side in its last four games.

“This is a sad loss whichever way you look at it — to Senzo’s family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates and to the nation,” Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza said.

South Africa lost another prominent sportsman just a couple of days earlier, when athlete Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in an automobile accident on Friday.

[AP]

TIME South Africa

Heated Reaction in South Africa to Pistorius Sentence

Oscar Pistorius after he is sentenced at the Pretoria High Court on October 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa.
Oscar Pistorius after he is sentenced at the Pretoria High Court on October 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Herman Verwey—Getty Images

The six-time Paralympic medal-winning athlete is sentenced to five years in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, eliciting charges of injustice in his native South Africa

When the judge sentenced Oscar Pistorius to five years in jail for killing his girlfriend, his reaction was muted. The response elsewhere in South Africa was not. “Five years for murder?” screeched one angry caller to a local radio talkshow. Twitter lit up with angry condemnations of the judge, some commentators going so far as to suggest that all murderers would be so lucky to have her presiding over their case.

After all the drama of a trial that evoked Hollywood theatrics and a blockbuster viewership over the course of its seven-month-run, Judge Thokozile Masipa finally delivered her sentence Tuesday morning in the courtroom in Pretoria, condemning Pistorius to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, 29-year-old law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp in what he described as a tragic mistake. Pistorius wiped his eyes upon hearing his sentence and reached for the hands of family members gathered behind him.

Pistorius, 27, killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year, shooting her four times through a closed bathroom door in his home. He testified that he had mistaken her for a nighttime intruder. Immediately following his sentencing he was escorted out of the packed court, down a flight of stairs and into the court’s detention center to await transport to the prison.

On Sept. 12 Masipa convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide, a crime similar to manslaughter, but acquitted him of murder at the conclusion of a trial that had become an international spectacle. Pistorius, a double amputee dubbed the “Bladerunner” for his athletic prowess on blade-shaped prosthetic limbs, alternately wept, vomited and collapsed at various points of the trial as the prosecutor presented graphic evidence taken from the scene of the crime and asked Pistorius to recount, in agonizing detail, the events of the night his girlfriend was shot. The prosecution accused Pistorius of murdering Steenkamp in a fit of rage.

In sentencing Pistorius to five years imprisonment, Masipa split the difference between the prosecution’s argument for 10 years and the defense’s case that any jail term would be an unjust punishment for a double-amputee in a violent prison system where Pistorius could be subjected to abuse because of his disability. His lawyers had argued for a three-year probation period of house arrest and community service.

The Steenkamp family appeared to be satisfied, with family lawyer Dup De Bruyn saying that it was “the right sentence,” and that “justice was served,” according to Reuters, suggesting that an appeal is unlikely. Public reaction has been much more heated. Radio talk shows were inundated with angry callers lambasting the judge. “Lady justice just had her legs amputated,” shouted one irate caller. Another cursed Masipa on air, prompting a flurry of Twitter comments over the inappropriateness of denigrating a judge, no matter the reason.

It is likely that Pistorius will be paroled after serving at least one sixth of his sentence — 10 months — according to legal analysts, prompting sarcasm from one math-impaired Twitter commentator: “Three women are killed by their partners every day in [South Africa]. I guess an 8-month sentence will help fight this,” tweeted@ justicemalala.

Meanwhile, the International Paralympic Committee, which has awarded Pistorius six medals throughout his career, says that he will be banned from competing for five years, even if he is paroled early. Given the high profile nature of both Pistorius and Steenkamp, it was a given that no matter the sentence, people would be angry. Twitter commentator @ZuBeFly summed it up best: “Only way I’d feel 100% satisfied is if any type of sentence the judge passed would bring Reeva back. No winners here either way.”

Read next: Oscar Pistorius Gets 5 Years for the Culpable Homicide of Reeva Steenkamp

TIME South Africa

Oscar Pistorius Gets 5 Years for the Culpable Homicide of Reeva Steenkamp

South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria Oct. 21, 2014 Herman Verwey—Reuters

The Paralympic gold medalist was acquitted of murder last month

Athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced Tuesday to five years imprisonment for the Valentine’s Day killing of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The 27-year-old double-amputee was found guilty of culpable homicide after shooting Steenkamp through the toilet door of his home in Pretoria on Feb. 14, 2013.

The “Blade Runner,” as Pistorius is known due to his trademark prosthetic limbs, claims he thought an intruder lurked inside, but the state maintained that he shot four times with the intention of killing Steenkamp after the couple had argued.

The South African was acquitted of murder by Judge Thokozile Masipa last month after a high-profile trial that was televised around the world.

In sentencing Pistorius, Masipa said she weighed, “The personal circumstances of the accused and interests of society.”

She added: “A non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community, but a long sentence would also not be appropriate.”

Pistorius made history as the first Paralympian to compete against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. He has apparently been suffering from depression since Steenkamp’s death.

A separate firearms charge received three years imprisonment, suspended for five years.

Read next: Heated Reaction in South Africa to Pistorius Sentence

TIME South Africa

Oscar Pistorius Must ‘Pay for What He Has Done,’ Steenkamp Family Says

Athlete expected to be sentenced as early as Friday for culpable homicide of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius “needs to pay for what he has done,” Reeva Steenkamp’s cousin said Thursday at a court hearing to decide the athlete’s sentence for killing the model. “My family are not people who are seeking revenge, we just feel … taking somebody’s life, to shoot somebody behind the door that is unarmed, that is harmless needs sufficient punishment,” Kim Martin told the court. “I’m very fearful of the accused, I have tried very hard to put him out of my mind…because I didn’t want to spend any energy thinking about him,” she said.

After giving her testimony, Martin thanked…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME South Africa

Psychologist Says Pistorius Is a ‘Broken Man’

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa on Oct. 13, 2014. Marco Longari—Pool/Reuters

The "Blade Runner" is awaiting sentencing for his culpable homicide conviction

(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius is a “broken man” after killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp because he lost the woman he said he loved as well as his reputation, friends, income and sense of self-worth, a psychologist called by his lawyers testified Monday.

Dr. Lore Hartzenberg gave the testimony ahead of the runner’s sentencing for culpable homicide, and it was almost immediately characterized by the chief prosecutor as unbalanced.

Hartzenberg said the double-amputee runner had sometimes cried, retched, perspired and paced up and down during meetings in which she tried to assist him.

The testimony was part of an effort by the runner’s legal team to persuade Judge Thokozile Masipa that Pistorius has suffered emotionally and materially for what he said was an accident and that he is remorseful. The team hopes the judge will be lenient when she sentences Pistorius after what is expected to be about a week of legal argument and testimony.

Pistorius, once a celebrated athlete who ran in the 2012 Olympics, was charged with premeditated murder but Masipa instead found him guilty last month of the lesser charge of culpable homicide. Sentences for that conviction can range from a suspended sentence and a fine to as many as 15 years in prison.

“We are left with a broken man who has lost everything,” Hartzenberg said during her testimony.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel criticized her findings, saying Pistorius would likely have the chance to rebuild his life.

Several police officers stood guard on the dais where the judge sat amid concerns about her security. Masipa drew criticism from some South Africans who thought Pistorius could at least have been convicted of a lesser murder charge on the grounds that he knew a person could die when he fired four bullets through a toilet door in his home early on Valentine’s Day last year.

Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, died in the hail of bullets, and prosecutors said Pistoriushad opened fire in anger after the couple argued. The runner testified that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder who was about to come out of the toilet and attack him.

Hartzenberg, who described herself as an expert in trauma counseling, said she first met withPistorius on Feb. 25 last year, 11 days after the shooting death of Steenkamp, and had been counselling him since then.

“Some of the sessions were just him weeping and crying and me holding him,” Hartzenberg said, describing Pistorius as overcome with grief and guilt that he had caused Steenkamp’s death.

She said the shooting and Pistorius’ lengthy and high-profile murder trial meant the athlete had also suffered severe loss. He had lost Steenkamp, his “moral and professional reputation,” many of his friends, his career and his financial independence, she said.

“I can confirm his remorse and pain to be geunine,” she said.

Responding to Hartzenberg’s description of a broken man, prosecutor Nel asked the psychologist about Steenkamp’s family.

“Would you not expect a broken family?” Nel asked, saying Steenkamp’s father Barry had suffered a stroke as a result of the killing of his daughter.

Nel said Pistorius also had the opportunity to return to his life and his track career.

“We are now dealing with a broken man, but he is still alive,” the prosecutor said.

Hartzenberg was the first witness called by Pistorius’ defense lawyers to argue in mitigation of sentencing. Defense lawyer Barry Roux said he would likely call four witnesses during the sentencing hearing. Prosecutor Nel said the state would call at least two, with the hearing expected to last a week.

There is no minimum sentence in South Africa for culpable homicide or negligent killing, although some experts say a five-year jail sentence is a guideline when a firearm is used.

Read next: Pistorius and South Africa’s Culture of Violence

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