The New South Africa

The New South Africa

The New South Africa

The New South Africa

Synopsis

The orderly transfer of power from the white minority to the black majority in South Africa was something of a political miracle. This book looks at the tasks facing the new government of Thabo Mbeki.

Excerpt

For at least a quarter of a century prior to 1990 observers of the South African scene predicted that apartheid would end in a blood bath; instead, at the eleventh hour, there was an orderly transfer of political power by means of universal franchise elections from the white minority to the black majority and the New South Africa was born. Whatever had gone before, this represented a triumph for peaceful as opposed to violent methods of political change. The problems that faced the new government of the African National Congress (ANQ were — and remain — formidable.

During the apartheid years the white minority in South Africa held all the levers of political and economic power and could be seen as an extension of the rich developed North set down in a poor country of the South and able to control the black majority by means of the apparatus of apartheid. Following the elections of April 1994 this situation was turned on its head: South Africa became (what it always was in fact) a poor developing country with a rich white elite in the middle of it. The majority of those whites, though by no means all, had been either active supporters of the apartheid system or passive recipients of the benefits for whites which flowed from it. The 'trick' for the ruling ANC is how to use this white minority and integrate it into the New South Africa so that its expertise and energies are used to the benefit of the whole population; the success or failure of this integration process will determine the success or failure of the new South Africa.

The adverse economic and social consequences of apartheid will take years to eradicate while, arguably, the psychological scars left by the system will not disappear until the present generation has passed away. One statistic alone points to the extent of the economic problem: only 11 per cent of the population is rated as highly skilled and 53 per cent . . .

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