SA has just embarked upon the most extreme experiment in coercion in its history. Even at the summit of the high apartheid period, in the late 1960s, when the police were arresting hundreds of thousands of people a year for pass-law offences, restrictions on movement, access to livelihoods and the capacity to live day by day were not remotely as severe as now. How will it all play out? 

The paradoxical thing about coercion is that it only works when people actually consent to it. When they reach breaking point, they simply defy. Once that happens the authorities face a grim choice: either surrender and let people do as they want or go to war with them. How do we avoid that choice?

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now