Revolutions, accepted wisdom tells us, are not triggered by oppression but by dashed hope. The psychological logic at work here is straightforward. If you’re born with a boot on your throat, a crushed windpipe feels normal. But the moment you are given a glimpse of what it must be like to breath freely, nothing can ever feel normal again. Now the same boot applied with the same pressure feels utterly intolerable, and the uprising begins.Jacob Zuma’s regime didn’t come close to being one of South Africa’s most oppressive. His rule might have felt increasingly suffocating but he was always keener to have his hand in our pocket than his foot on our throat. I’m also not suggesting that South Africa is on the brink of a revolution. In his penultimate ramble, Zuma hinted at his ability to mobilise “cadres” in his defence, and Andile Mngxitama has threatened to bring Gauteng to a halt. But armies need to be paid and, now that the Guptas have gone to ground in India, those brown envelopes a...

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