While public attention has focused on the stature of Nelson Mandela, there has been at a deeper level in South Africa since 1990 a steep decline in state capacity, and a marked deterioration in democratic practice. The participatory democracy which had so characterised the decade of the 1980s was brought to a sharp end after the return of the nationalist leaders, and the workings of even a liberal, representative democracy have also suffered under the rise since 1994 of a predominant party system and élitism. The latter features are present too in Namibia, with similar consequences. Democracy which is understood merely as electoralism, as Botswana earlier had shown, has few defences against predominance. The voters' brief electoral act is wide open to manipulation and containment. Power is shared by élites, while popular participation is rendered moribund, and concern for justice and equality ceases.