Is The Place of Power Empty?: reading Claude Lefort in South Africa

Tladi, Mpho Cecil
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The thesis looks at both the flexibility and rigidity of South African politics. Using Claude Lefort’s theory of the ‘Empty Place of Power’, I compare the three main political parties in South Africa, namely: the African National Congress, Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance, and investigate how they construct the notion of ‘the people’ within the context of the Afrophobia and Xenophobia debate. I use some of Lefort’s key concepts such as the ‘Ontology of the Social’ and the ‘Dissolution of the Markers of Certitude’ to frame an argument of how these concepts can be read through the policies of the said political parties. I then analyse the level of openness in these parties and whether or not they meaningfully represent the people within the broader debate of citizenship and foreign nationals .I conclude by suggesting that all three parties base the identity of the people onto something grounded either in the race-nationalist conception of identity or a political articulation of community, and thus, that the place of power is not entirely empty
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Political Studies, 2020