Election manifestos might try to dazzle voters with promises or distract them with smoke and mirrors, but usually they really are what it says on the box. “Manifesto” comes from the Latin “manifestus”, which, rather fittingly, can be translated as “obvious”. This isn’t news to South Africans. In this country you don’t need to speak Latin to see the obvious admissions of failure and obviously overblown promises in election manifestos. You just need to have been awake for the last 25 years. Still, not all election manifestos are snake oil and hokum. Take Mzwanele Manyi and his new meal ticket, the African Transformation Party. Some doubt the party’s bona fides but to me it is quite clear that the ATM is genuinely dedicated to transformation, specifically the transformation of Gupta capital into political capital and the transformation of Jacob Zuma from puppet into puppeteer. Hell, Manyi’s even got some actual political policies, like reinstating the death penalty. And I believe he me...

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