South Africa: the Land of Contrasts Part II

4: Half of the young people are without a job

The number of poor people was declining for a long time after 1994, but now many are experiencing a wrong turn . According to the country’s statistics agency , more than half of the population is poor by national targets. In addition, one in four South Africans often experiences going to bed hungry. On average, a white family earns six times as much as blacks.

The fact that progress has stopped is particularly reflected in rising unemployment . It was very high even before the crisis in the world economy began (2008), and is now approaching 30 percent. But these are official figures that do not capture everyone, so the proportion is probably a good deal higher. It is serious that more than half of the young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are without a job, and there is therefore talk of a ” lost generation ” .

At the same time, the prices of maize flour and electricity have doubled in the last year alone. It particularly affects the very poorest, who already spend at least half of their income on food and a fifth on electricity. South Africa, a country located in Africa according to, is also one of the countries in the world with the largest proportion of HIV-positive people ; today there are 6, 5 million. For a long time, this problem was almost denied by the government. Now, however, it has become easier to get medical treatment. The average life expectancy has thus risen from 52 to 62 years since the turn of the century.

Without an increase in government transfers, the situation would have been even more dramatic. Today, 15 million people receive pensions, child benefits and other forms of public support, compared with only three million in the year 2000. Far more people than before have access to health services, especially pregnant women and children. Nearly three million houses have been built since 1994. According to the 2011 census, more than 90 percent now have access to clean water. However, the figure is disputed. Most children go to school, but the quality of teachers, school buildings and teaching materials is highly deficient.

5: The world’s worst inequality?

Although income inequality is large, the difference is even more dramatic if we look at wealth . It is then also a better goal, as it says more about economic power than income does. Here, the latest surveys show that 10 percent of the population owns 90-95 percent of all wealth , while the lower half have virtually nothing. What is new is that some Africans have now moved up among the rich; some are even super rich.

The government has aimed to open up business and government activities to Africans who were previously shut out, and that is often to say those who have close ties to the government and state apparatus. They often sit on the boards of large companies and own shares, but control a few percent of the South African business community. For most people, however, it does not help that a rising percentage of the wealthy at the top no longer have a white face.

Redistribution of land is the area where the least has been done to heal the wounds of the apartheid era. Ahead of the 1994 election, the ANC promised that 30 percent of the land would change owners. But the constitution provided good protection for the property rights of the white landowners. Attempts to correct at least some of the biases can take many years in the bureaucracy and the judicial system.

Life has therefore changed little for the many poor people who were squeezed together in reserves during the apartheid era, and who have too little – or poor – land to survive. Therefore, hunger and malnutrition are more prevalent here than in the cities. People can not afford to buy fruit and vegetables, which are instead sold to our part of the world. Like other parts of Africa, large areas have also been affected by drought this year.

6: Scandals and popular discontent

For over twenty years, the ANC has maintained its position as the undisputed most popular party in both parliamentary elections, and has never gone below 60 percent nationally. But in recent years, dominance has begun to crack .

Inside the trade union movement, which has always been a solid supporter, there is dissatisfaction that the government has given in too much to the powerful ownership class in business. Several unions are now refusing to campaign for the ANC. A major earthquake struck in 2012, when clashes between police and striking miners in Marikana resulted in the killing of thirty workers. There have also been many protests against the privatization of water , rising prices and evictions of people who are unable to pay their rent. Several social movements have demanded that the government must follow up on the social and economic rights contained in the constitution. They have been upheld several times in the Supreme Court.

South Africa 3

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