A little weird sitting here in a bubble called Yale University, on the East Coast of the USA, waiting to be interviewed by Karima Brown about the Zondo Commission. Last night I read the Preface of my book Shadow State to a friend here in the USA who knows nothing about SA politics. It was an uncanny experience, because Americans are experiencing the same bizarre surreal political reality we experienced under Zuma. Populist leaders who suffer from serious delusions of grandeur coupled to an extra-ordinary capacity to self-justify by completely discrediting hard facts seem to be flourishing the world over. We should be proud to have the Zondo Commission because all the evidence is in the public domain. Here they have Special Prosecutor Mueller who is mounting an investigation that clearly implicates the President, but nothing is the public domain. These are serious bizarre times, and they are not simply aberrations. At the core of the rise of populist authoritarianism is the defense of an outdated energy system, whether this is fossil fuel based or nuclear. As the power bases of business empires erode as the real costs of oil and coal rise, renewables are getting cheaper and increasingly easy to set up. Zuma was about defending the nuclear deal with the Russians; Trump is about defending the oil and coal industries. One of the first things Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe did after taking office was sign the outstanding contracts for more renewable energy plants. While Trump acts against renewable energy and the environment, many city and state level governments move in the opposite direction. Dozens of young people horrified by Trump are standing for election in the November mid-terms here in the USA, bringing a new radicalism into the Democratic Party. As the old cliche goes, we live in interesting times.
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