“There’s frustration, there’s helplessness because they just not getting any assistance from the authorities,” says Coovadia. 

Plaguing the president constantly is the entrenched culture of corruption that Zuma epitomised, which Ramaphosa claims cost the South African state more than $35bn (£25.2bn).

Zuma was sentenced last month for defying a court order to give evidence on high-level looting during his nine years in office until 2018. He also faces trial in a separate case on charges including corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering. 

“Under Jacob Zuma, the country was really hollowed out and a lot of core institutions were destroyed and undermined in many ways,” says Dr Joachim Wehner, an associate professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“[Zuma’s government] really undid a lot of very good institution building that had taken place in the first decade and a half after the end of apartheid.”

Though triggered by Zuma’s jailing, the unrest reflects growing frustration at failures by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to address inequality decades after the end of white minority rule in 1994 ushered in democracy.

The ANC, once led by Nelson Mandela, has held power since the first free and fair elections in 1994. Its dominance has created an ideal atmosphere for complacent, pork-barrel politics, which reached its peak under Zuma and has left the country’s economy – which held so much promise at the turn of the century – in shambles.

Government debt stands at around 83pc of GDP and South Africa’s long-standing issues with labour and inequality look more intractable than ever.

Its currency also plunged this week, ceding its position as the year’s top emerging-market performer. 



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