Why was the South African President Jacob Zuma booed at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service? Nelson Mandela promised a South Africa based on freedom and equality when he was elected in 1994, but twenty years on has his dream been lost?

As the country mourns its heroic leader, the nation Mandela fought so hard to create is slowly disintegrating. Violence is commonplace, unemployment is out of control (estimated at 25%) and the ruling ANC Government, in particular President Zuma is accused of rampant corruption.

Photo: Louie Eroglu

Reporter Matthew Carney travels to South Africa to try and understand the forces that threaten to pull the "rainbow nation" apart. What he finds after 20 years of ANC rule is a tiny black elite who have enriched themselves at the expense of a poor black majority. For the poor not much has changed... eighteen million people live on less than two dollars a day.

The Marikana mine massacre illuminates the massive contradictions and difficulties confronting the country. On August 16, 2012, 3,000 miners gathered to protest sub-standard wages. The police opened fire killing 34 people and wounding another 78. Some were killed in the initial attack, but it's alleged that many who died were actually shot in cold blood by police after the initial salvos were fired. Later, it was alleged the police planted weapons on the dead to justify their actions. Carney talks to miners and protestors who survived the massacre, many of whom tell their stories for the first time. Some claim they were tortured and one miner tells how he was shot seven times by a black policeman.

Photo: Louie Eroglu

Marikana shocked the nation and evoked powerful memories of Apartheid massacres like Sharpeville and Soweto. The program also examines the Commission of Inquiry that has been set up to find out what really happened at Marikana. The commission resumes hearings in South Africa on Jan. 6, 2014.

Corruption is the other major national issue. As one corruption investigator told the program: "If we are losing billions to corruption, you can imagine what we could have done with the money." While the government struggles to provide housing for people, it's now alleged that same government has authorised a retirement home to be built for President Jacob Zuma at a cost to the public purse of nearly $30 million. His supporters say it's in the interests of security but the house has already gone way over any official allocation. President Zuma is pleading ignorance but the documentary’s investigation has obtained documents that suggest otherwise. Twenty years ago Nelson Mandela pledged to his people that the massive wealth of South Africa would lift the poor black majority out of poverty and there would be jobs and houses for all. Two decades on that promise runs hollow and the seeds are there for further upheaval and political instability. 

Produced for ABC Australia.

Credits (Click to expand)


Matthew Carney


Peter Cronau


Louie Eroglu, ACS


Dingani Masuku


Guy Bowden

Assistant editor

Amy Noble

Archive producer

Michelle Baddiley

Additional footage/images

Thomson – Reuters


Paballo Thekiso

Special thanks to

Lee-Ann Alfreds

Paddy Harper

Diana Lucas

Lebogang Nkooe

Cheryl Uyes-Allie


Alright Ramasala


Dingani Masuku

Immaculate Mloyi

Library researcher

Keryn Kelleway

ABC Legal

Michael Martin

Producer’s assistant

Wendy Purchase

Production managers

Susan Cardwell

Robert Hodgson


Also on CBC