Whose Democracy Is It Anyway? Framing South African Citizenship and National Identity in the Face Of Afrophobia
Yona Siyongwana (Independent) and Madoda Ludidi (Independent)

The post-1994 South African democratic project is often lauded as being proof of the power of dialogue and negotiation in conflict-ridden contexts. Bequeathed a racially fragmented country still reeling from apartheid and colonialism, the Government of National Unity (GNU) and subsequent administrations were tasked with leading the way in building a united South African democracy with a strong national identity. Sharing a similar historical trajectory to other culturally diverse nations on the continent, the South African democratic state has had to manage the plural interests of numerous communities while simultaneously bringing about equitable redress, access and (social) justice to those who live within its borders. However, the South African state’s domestic record as guardian of its people leaves much to be desired as the advent of Afrophobia has proven to be indicative of unequal access to socioeconomic gains in the democratic era, the communal tensions said unequal access has inflamed and, ultimately, the still deeply wounded South African psyche. Afrophobia threatens to then not only destabilise and delegitimise South African democracy in a substantive sense, but also reveal the unwinding of the delicate national social fabric, and the incompleteness of the state-led nation-building project. This paper thus seeks to engage the performance of Afrophobia as a means of citizenship preservation and assertion through the weaponization of identity politics. Also considering the position South Africa holds as a continental leader in human rights and democracy, this paper will also delve into the implications a phenomenon such as Afrophobia could have on its geopolitical standing and role.