Natural resources and energy
South Africa has the world's largest
platinum reserves and is estimated to have half of the
world's gold, three-quarters of all manganese and more
than two-thirds of all chromium. The country also has
large deposits of vanadium and andalusite as well as
diamonds, coal and uranium. Significant gas discoveries
have been made and oil exploration is ongoing offshore.
In 2014, metals and minerals accounted for 60 percent
of South Africa's export revenues. Platinum is South
Africa's most important export product and in 2014
accounted for 9 percent of total exports. The country's
second most important export product is gold.
Major exports by South Africa with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
South Africa's coal is cheap to mine and supplies
electricity to the country, which is also exported. The
electricity supply comes to 90 percent from coal-fired
power plants. The remainder comes from a nuclear power
plant, hydropower and to a lesser extent from solar and
wind energy, which, however, is increasing in
The share of households with electricity has
increased from 50 to 85 percent since 1994, but the
capacity of the power plants is not enough.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, SF stands for South Africa. Visit itypeusa for more information about South Africa.
A planned investment in expanded nuclear power was
put on ice in 2018 due to high costs. Instead, the
government plans to reduce its dependence on coal
through investments in wind power and natural gas.
South Africa is a dry country and the water shortage
is expected to increase dramatically. Half of all water
consumption already goes to irrigation of agriculture.
The Vaal River is a water source for industry and is
utilized to the maximum.
Some water is imported from a large water project in
Lesotho. The project has been criticized by
environmentalists who believe that the plants disturb
the ecological balance.
Hazardous emissions and residues from the mining
industry that are not taken care of also threaten the
environment. Chemicals used in the mines precipitate
into the soil and contaminate nearby waterways.
Other concerns are widespread air pollution in major
cities and the threats posed by a growing population to
the country's unique flora and fauna. Soils were
over-utilized and depleted, leading to soil degradation.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
2,715 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
4229 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
489 772 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
9.0 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
17.2 percent (2015)
Radio and TV manager resigns
The chairman of the board of the state radio and television company SABC
resigns. The company has for several months been shaken by accusations of
censorship and waste. President Mbulaheni Maguvhe submits his resignation a few
days after he was heavily employed in a parliamentary hearing. SABC, which has
three TV channels and 20 radio channels, has been criticized for partial
reporting from the local elections in August, when the company, for example,
banned the display of violent demonstrations. The SABC has also stopped
referring to newspaper articles that have been critical of the government and
President Zuma. Several reporters have been dismissed or punished after
criticizing the corporate editorial line.
The ANC continues to support Zuma
After a "difficult debate", the ruling party rejects the ANC's executive
committee a demand that President Zuma resign. At least four ministers had
supported the requirement.
Unemployment in the third quarter of 2016 increases to 27.1 percent, which is
the highest figure in 13 years.
Zuma is suspected of crime
The Anti-Corruption Authority directs criminal suspicions against President
Zuma and calls on the Prosecutor's Office to initiate a formal investigation.
Above all, the suspicions are that Zuma should have been influenced by their
ties to the Gupta family and, among other things, given them influence over
appointments of ministers.
The charge against the finance minister is closed
The Prosecutor General decides to close the fraud charges against Finance
Minister Gordhan. He says he is convinced that Gordhan did not intentionally act
unlawfully and that it would be very difficult to prove a crime.
Gordhan gets support
Jackson Mithembu, the ANC's group leader in parliament, calls on the entire
party leadership, including President Zuma, to step down. He justifies the claim
with the party's poor local elections in August, factional battles and, not
least, the recent fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Mithembu claims that the prosecution is politically based and raises questions
about where the party is headed. In the past, Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa,
among others, has expressed support for the finance minister. In a newspaper ad,
some 80 executives for mostly listed South African companies also demand that
the indictment against Gordhan be discontinued. They say that internal political
settlements only further damage the country's already slowing economy.
The opposition appeals against ICC decisions
The opposition party DA appeals the government's decision to leave the ICC to
the Constitutional Court. The DA says it is against the country's constitution
to adopt such a decision and communicate it to the UN without first anchoring it
to Parliament, which once ratified South Africa's membership in the
International Criminal Court.
South Africa leaves ICC
The Government of South Africa decides to suspend its membership in the
International Criminal Court (ICC). The direct cause is the conflict with the
ICC that erupted when South Africa in 2015 failed to arrest Sudan's wanted
President Omar al-Bashir when he attended an AU summit. According to the court's
rules, South Africa was obliged to arrest him and hand him over to the ICC.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha also refers to the general view in Africa that
the ICC is largely only prosecuting Africans. South Africa's defection is seen
as a major setback to the ICC's credibility and is feared to attract more
African countries to leave the court. Amnesty Internationalaccuses South Africa
of "deceiving millions of victims of the very worst human rights violations".
According to Amnesty, the decision undermines the international judiciary. Human
Rights Watch says that South Africa shows a "startling nonchalance for justice"
despite long being regarded as a leader in human rights issues.
The EFF suits the Gupta brothers
The radical opposition party EFF is filing a lawsuit against the Gupta
brothers as well as Duduzane Zuma, one of the president's sons, and Mosebenzi
Zwane, minister responsible for the country's mineral resources. In the lawsuit,
all are accused of corruption, theft, fraud, money laundering, organized crime
and other financial crimes.
Zuma seeks to stop sensitive report
President Zuma goes to court to block a report on Gupta's influence on the
government. The three Gupta brothers who came to South Africa in the 1990s have
built up an empire around mining and media and have developed close ties with
President Zuma. According to allegations, the Gupta family has influenced the
appointment of ministers and decisions regarding government contracts and
companies (see also March 2016). The report is authored by
Public Ombudsman Thuli Madonsela, who has previously worked in clinic with Zuma
on the renovation of his private farmhouse (see March 2014).
The report was to be presented on Madonsela's last working day before her term
expires, but at the last moment the court postponed the publication until
November 1. The day before, Finance Minister Gordhan has provided a court with
papers that are said to show that the Gupta family has been involved in
The Minister of Finance in court
A legal process is underway against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is
accused of creating an illegal tax monitoring unit when he was head of the
country's tax authority. He is also accused of defrauding the state of the
equivalent of SEK 675,000 which one of his colleagues received as severance pay
in 2010. Gordhan dismisses the allegations and believes that they were added to
silence him. Gordhan, who in his office maintained a high profile against
corruption, has many times come into conflict with people around Zuma about how
the state's funds should be used.
Students do not give up
An attempt to open Wits University in Johannesburg, which has been closed to
and from during recent weeks' student protests, is triggering new clashes
between students and police.
Student protests are growing
Student protests are spreading across the country and police are using rubber
bullets against protesters in Johannesburg and Grahamstown.
Violent student protests
A demonstration at the Wits University in Johannesburg against increased
tuition fees degenerates into violence when security guards on campus meet with
students. The police intervene the following day and use shock grenades and tear
gas to disperse the protesters. In Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein,
demonstrations are also being held against the increased fees. The government
has promised to compensate the poorest students for the increase, but the
protesters want education to be free for everyone. Student demonstrations have
become increasingly common in the past year.
Zuma makes himself guilt free
The Finance Ministry announces that President Zuma has paid the money he owes
the state for redundant renovations at his country site (see June 2016).
Zuma is said to have raised the money, close to 4.6 million, by taking out a
loan on his home.
ANC is raging in elections
The scandals surrounding President Zuma and the country's economic problems
seem to leave an impression as South Africans go to the polls to elect local
representatives. The ANC makes its worst choice since the party came to power 22
years ago. The ANC loses its majority in the big city of Johannesburg and gets
to see itself from the largest opposition party DA in the capital Pretoria. The
DA wins just over 43 percent of the vote compared to 41 percent for the ANC. The
ruling party is also suffering a major setback in one of its strongest
strongholds, the port city of Port Elisabeth. The local elections were the first
for the opposition party EFF, which won just over 8 percent of the votes on
Criticism of SABC
Protesters gather outside the country's radio and television companies
accused of angling their broadcasts in favor of the government ahead of the
planned local elections in August. The company has banned elements that show
violent protests against the government's policies and is accused of preventing
the opposition from advertising in the company's channels. Journalists who have
criticized the new editorial line must have been reprimanded and the company's
CEO has left his post in protest.
Zuma owes treasury millions
The Finance Ministry announces that President Zuma owes the state close to
SEK 8 million, equivalent to SEK 4.6 million, which was used to renovate his
private summer residence. The sum to be repaid according to a previous court
ruling refers to measures that were not safety related, such as the construction
of a swimming pool (see also March 2014 and March 2016).
The Zuma appeal is rejected
The Pretoria Supreme Court rejects President Zuma's attempt to have one of
the court's previous ruling tried. This applies to an April ruling that nearly
800 indictments against the president should be reopened (see April 2016).
Two dead in election-related violence
The metropolitan area is shaken by violent clashes between various political
camps ahead of the local elections to be held in early August. The conflict
concerns who is appointed as the ANC's candidate for the mayor's post in
Pretoria. Two people are killed during the unrest and about 40 are arrested by
HD ruling on Zuma appealed
24th of May
The Prosecutor's Office announces that it will request that the ruling of a
judge in the Supreme Court be tried. The judge came in April concluded that the
Prosecutor's Office erred when in 2009 it filed nearly 800 indictments against
President Zuma for corruption. Zuma also says he will request that the rash be
New noise in Parliament
Fighting breaks out in Parliament when around ten MPs from Malema's party EFF
try to prevent President Zuma from keeping his budget speech. The quarrel ends
with summoned guards forcing MPs to leave the House. Almost two weeks later, the
same thing happens again. The EFF says that the party no longer considers Zuma
as the country's president and that it is he who should be thrown out of
parliament. According to the EFF, the same scene will be repeated every time
Zuma tries to speak in Parliament.
Corruption charges against Zuma again
Pressure on President Zuma increases when the Pretoria High Court rejects a
decision by the Prosecutor's Office from 2009 when prosecutors chose to close
nearly 800 indictments against Zuma for corruption in connection with a major
arms deal. The judge calls the decision irrational and recommends that the
charges be reinstated. The president's administration points out in a comment
that the charges against Zuma have been withdrawn but says the judge's ruling
should be analyzed.
ANC police reports Malema
The ANC starts a judicial process against opposition politician Julius
Malema, who is accused of treason after he, in an interview, threatened to take
up arms if the government continues to respond to peaceful protests by force.
Zuma avoids national law
The opposition's proposal to put President Zuma before the national court is
voted down by a large margin by ANC members in parliament.
Zuma hated by court
The Constitutional Court announces that President Zuma has violated the
country's constitution when he failed to follow the recommendations of the
public ombudsman who in March 2014 ruled that Zuma should repay some of the
state funds used to renovate his private summer residence (see March
2014). The Ministry of Finance is required to decide within 60 days how
much Zuma will repay and the president is then given 45 days to submit the sum.
After the court ruling, Zuma becomes the subject of a wave of condemnation.
Critical voices are also raised within the ANC, and Zuma says he will pay. The
opposition is launching a process to bring Zuma to court.
New scandal pressures Zuma
President Zuma comes under increased pressure after the country's deputy
finance minister revealed that he was offered the job of finance minister by the
Gupta finance family with close ties to the president. The news raises strong
criticism within the ANC and the opposition says it will try to get the Gupta
family prosecuted for corruption. After a three-day meeting, however, the ANC's
highest decision-making body backs Zuma and declares that the party has full
confidence in the president.
Dry pest agriculture
Like other countries in southern Africa, South Africa has suffered a
prolonged drought as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon. According to
data from the country's statistical office, the agricultural sector has fallen
by 16 percent in 2016, and the government calls the drought the worst in a
century. To prevent famine, the government plans to import at least four million
tonnes of maize.
Zuma can handle the distrust vote
With 225 votes against 99, the opposition's declaration of confidence against
President Zuma is dismissed. The background to the vote is the economic crisis
triggered by the switches at the Finance Minister post in December. According to
the statement of disbelief, Zuma's "irrational, irresponsible and foolish
leadership" would have caused the country's economy "immeasurable damage".
Corruption charges can be retried
A court is considering a request by the opposition to re-examine corruption
charges from a prosecution filed in 2009.