This paper presents an assessment and analysis of post-apartheid South Africa as an under-performing country. Following a brief overview of South Africa with comparative reference to OECD averages, other African countries and fellow members in the BRICS grouping, the paper presents a diagnostic assessment of the key challenges to South African development and transition to a stable, effective democracy. The next section of the paper considers what South Africa must do to address these identified problems and issues and to increase industry, attract foreign investment, increase regional trade, provide for improved self-determination and otherwise better position itself for sustainable development. In making these recommendations, the analysis draws on comparisons from what has worked in other comparative countries, including, for the purpose of this analysis, primarily Botswana, Mauritius, and Brazil as well as what has worked in other countries (e.g.
, Hong Kong) which while much different from South Africa, still offer some valuable lessons for dealing with some of the country’s most difficult problems. It is the thesis of this paper that South Africa is currently on a pathway away from development, growth and democratization and that unless the South African government takes radical steps to reverse some of its existing harmful policies as well as steps to implement meaningful economic, social and political reform, it will become a failed state.Profile of South AfricaPeople According to South Africa’s government statistics office, the population in 2011 was 51.
7 million, of whom 26.5 million (51.1%) are female and 25.1 million (48.9%) are male. Compared to OECD averages, South Africa’s population is young: 29.9% of the people are under age 15, compared to 18.4% as the OECD average and just 4.
8% of the South African population is over the age of 65 years, versus 14.9% as an average across all OECD nations. South Africa is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial society.
Africans (blacks) are the largest group, comprising 79.2% of the population as of 2011. The African population is comprised of four general groups: 1) the Nguni (including the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi); 2) the Sotho-Tswana; 3) the Tsonga; and 4) the Venda. Former Presidents Mandela and Mbeki are both Xhosa, current President Zuma is Zulu. The racial designations of “whites” and “coloreds” comprise 8.9% each of the current South African population, while the Indian/Asian population comprises 2.
5% of the population and an otherwise unclassified category called “other” comprises 0.5% of the total population. The term “colored” South African is used to designate people (who generally speak Afrikaans) of mixed race descended from slaves brought from other areas of Africa, the indigenous Khoisan who lived in the Cape during the slave trading era, and/or indigenous Africans and whites. The “whites” category includes the Afrikaners or descendants of the Dutch, German, and French Huguenot people who came to South Africa beginning in the 17th century; the English-speaking descendants of British settlers who came to the country beginning in 18th century; and other immigrants and descendants of Caucasian immigrants.
The Asian/Indian category has historically been mainly Indian in origin, many of whom are descendants of indentured workers brought to work on sugar plantations in the 19th century. There is also a sizable group of Chinese South Africans, as well as significant numbers of Southeast Asians (particularly Malays) within the Asian/Indian population. Reflecting its multi-ethnic composition, South Africa is also a multilingual country, with the 1996 democratic constitution recognizing 11 official languages (each which is granted equal states), including Afrikaans (spoke by 13.5% of the population), English (spoken as a first language by 9.6% of the population, and by upwards of 80% of the population as it is commonly spoken in official and commercial dealings), isiNdebele, isiXhosa (spoke by 16% of the population), isiZulu (the most common home language, spoke by 20% of the population, including President Zuma), Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, Setswana, siWati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
About 60% of South Africa’s population now live in urban areas; the largest cities are Soweto (1.3 million), Johannesburg (just under 1 million), and Pretoria (750,000), all of which are in Gauteng Province. The fourth largest city, Durban (~600,000) is in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. South Africa is divided into nine provinces, with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces together accounting for 42% of South Africa’s population. The Northern Cape constitutes the country’s largest province (covering about 33% of the country’s total land area), but as it is a very arid region, it is home to only 2.2% of the country’s population. The overall population density in the country is 41.
3 people per kilometer compared with 34.3 as an OECD average. In terms of general quality of life indicators, the OECD reports that in 2010, South Africans’ life expectancy at birth was 52.
1 years (up from 50.5 years in 2007), compared with 79.7 years for the OECD average, 80.8 for the upper half of OECD countries, 67.6 for the Russian Federation, 70.6 for Indonesia, 64.
7 for India, 73 for China and 72.3 years for Brazil. The life expectancy at birth for South African males in 2010 was 51.4 years versus 76.9 years as an OECD average, South African females had a life expectancy of 52.8 years at birth, versus an OECD average of 82.5 years in 2010.
Infant mortality rates in South Africa are very high. As of 2007, the overall infant mortality rate was 59 (per 1,000) versus 8.9 for the lower half of OECD countries, 3.7 for the upper half of OECD countries, 21.7 for Brazil, 21.
9 for China, 21.2 for Indonesia, and 71.8 for India (the only roughly comparable country with a higher infant mortality rate than South Africa).