The ugly scenes that played out at the US Capitol recently were a stark reminder of the fragility of democratic systems and the institutions that underpin them. After all, if one of the world’s oldest democracies can be hijacked by a small group motivated by racial animus and the politics of grievance, then we need to ask hard questions about our own young democracy.

Many South Africans could not help but express a sense of schadenfreude as they watched transfixed as the chaotic scenes played out in Washington. This is disappointing not only because the world is a more dangerous and unstable place without a sensible, moderate US playing a leading role in global affairs, but also because this ignores that SA’s democracy has yet to pass its greatest test of all — the peaceful transfer of national power — something which despite all its manifest faults and failings the US has managed to achieve for the past 233 years...

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