Despite overblown rhetoric about coups and, from the Zuma camp, veiled threats of civil war, the recent mayhem was the result of a decade of uncivil wars. The ANC is split by rival factions. It’s a fracture that runs through all state institutions. The same paralysing dysfunction still plays havoc within the police force — which helps explain the failure to predict or rapidly control rioting.

Quicker than cleaning up the debris or investigating instigators, there is one colossal mess that could be eliminated immediately. From the police shambles, it is clear the rot starts right at the top. Both the police minister and the police commissioner have proved unsuitable for their jobs. Dismissals or resignations won’t happen — that’s not the way the ANC operates...

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