In arguing that the conditions for populism in SA are fertile “Don’t blame voters’ populist choices in an unjust nation”, (February 19), Neva Makgetla would do better to compare popular backlashes in history to make the point. Wherever they occurred, four conditions prevailed: very high rates of immigration; a deep-seated impression among citizens that corruption is systemic; high levels of actual inequality and disparity; and a severe financial crisis to trigger events. While the workers on her flat-bed truck may conceivably agree that research finds immigrants beneficial to a neoliberal economy, I suspect they will still not welcome them. SA has had a disruptive influx of migrants from Africa since 1994. Little needs to be said on economic corruption, but factored in must also be the widely held belief that the body politic is being manipulated and participation thus ineffectual. For populism to succeed now, a demagogue is needed who can tie these perceptions into a convincing sto...

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