After years of a white-oppressing governance, Apartheid in South Africa finally came to an end as the official ideology and legal system of the country in 1994. At the time, the arrival to the power of the black president, Nelson Mandela, was the guarantee of a national process of reconciliation, reconstruction and development, excluding racism and socialsegregation. The new democratic country considered itself then, as a “rainbow nation” where everyone would live together in peace and harmony. Nevertheless, questions as regard the legitimacy of this statement can arise. In sixteen years, has the situation improved in South Africa. Can the country be considered a developed western country? Or is it more part of the third world? Was the end of apartheid adisguised disaster? And is the South African society more equal regarding race inequalities?
In an attempt to answer these questions, I will first draw up an overview of the country’s situation and second, I will focus on the black/white problematic.
In a general consideration of South Africa, all legal, political, economic and social matters will be treated respectively. First, from a legalpoint of view, South Africa is a democracy with all the standards it implies. Elections are said to be free and fair, candidates are elected by majority vote, all political parties are represented and everyone has the right to vote. Moreover, the country’s constitution is one of the most progressive in the world, banishing discrimination of all kinds, giving social and economic rights to SouthAfricans as well as “usual civil and political freedoms” etc. The country was awarded a rating of 2 -1 meaning “completely free”- for its “freedom in the world” by an American research foundation. In addition, most democratic institutions such as the judiciary, trade unions and NGOs are said to be free.
Second, on a political level, the situation is less encouraging. Indeed, the country has beengoverned by the African National Congress, a “single all-powerful black-majority party” for sixteen years now and it can be noted that white people appointed by the government are far from being numerous. Furthermore, it appears that the country’s democratic institutions are weakened by the repeated appointments of incompetent and unqualified persons as decision makers. In the public sector forexample, it exists a shortage in human capital, the vacancy rate is high and posts are given on an affinity and personal connection basis to people who do not possess enough qualifications in compliance with the “ANC’s system of cadre deployment”.
Third, regarding the overall South African economy, it seems that the latter is doing nicely and its reality has well improved since the end of apartheid.In fact, exports have risen as well as the output per head, inflation considerably felt to 5.1% compared with the double digit percentages of the 80’s and interest rates have remarkably been lowered by banks. Moreover, the local financial markets, its investor protection, the efficacy of its corporate boards and the regulation of its securities and exchanges etc make South Africa a truly advancedcountry. Nevertheless, concerning sectors of activities, the economy is mainly based on mining and agriculture. The country produces gold, platinum, diamonds, chrome etc, but the competition is becoming harder with other emerging countries like China which also turned out to be a gold producer in particular. As for manufacturing, it is relatively small and South African labour costs, more expensivethan in other countries, will not help developing this sector. As a consequence, the major part of the population needing unskilled jobs, South Africa suffers from a high unemployment rate, which is probably one of the world’s highest, accounting officially for 25% of the population, but more close to 40% in reality, it is literally poisoning the economic life of the country and 43% live on...
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