Economic Development for South Africa - Competing in the Global Marketplace.

Author:Green, Kimberly A.


The first settlement of this colony was in the mid-1600s by the Dutch East India Company. About 150 years later, the region became more involved in the world capitalist economy. At this time, the amount of slave labor increased. Then, in 1795, Great Britain won the land around the cape and occupied the region (the Boer War was fought between Great Britain and two Afrikaner republics). Shortly after the goldfields were discovered in South Africa, there was an influx of white citizens flocking to the country in the search of gold; this was not a great thing for the country (Lowe, 2018).

The Union of South Africa was established on May 31, 1910. It was a self-governing dominion under the British Commonwealth (System 2018). Segregation became very common in the first few decades of the union, with their differences causing the apartheid (from the Afrikaans word for 'apartness') period, supported by the National Party, starting in 1948. Apartheid called for the separation of different racial groups. This group made many laws and was eventually ended with the leadership role of Nelson Mandela, the leader of the anti-apartheid revolution and the country's first black president elected in the first fully democratic election. With the guidance of Nelson Mandela, the country took the necessary steps towards a better society. As a whole, the country has grown tremendously since its apartheid past, but still struggles today with rising crime rates, ethnic tensions, life disparities, and political instability (Lowe, 2018).

The Union Act of 1934 stated that no act of the British parliament could apply to South Africa unless it was accepted by the country's Union parliament. The Republic of South Africa was formed on May 31, 1961 (System, 2018). This was due to a "national referendum" among the white voters of the country. This new constitution was mostly based on the South Africa Act, the only difference was it cut ties with the British Commonwealth of Nations. This new constitution called for a president, prime minister and an executive council (System, 2018). This constitution only allowed whites to vote; blacks, colored and Asians still did not have the right to vote for official officers.

During the early 1980s, there were ratifications made to the constitution (System, 2018). These revisions increased the number of blacks and Asians who served in the parliamentary system. The president was now elected by an 88-member Electoral College, consisting of 50 whites, 25 colored and 13 Indians (System, 2018). The president would serve as long as the Electoral College deemed him fit, normally five-year terms. Pieter Willem Botha, served as Prime Minister from 1978 to 1984 and served as president from 1984 to 1989 (History, 2018). South Africa was on the brink of a civil war at this time and police brutality was at an all-time high. F.W. de Klerk served as the last president of the apartheid era (History, 2018). He worked faster than any other to reform his country. He even released Nelson Mandela from imprisonment in 1990 after he served 27 years (History, 2018). The first democratic election took place in April of 1994. Nelson Mandela was elected President (History, 2018).

There was a new constitution put into place in December of 1996 (History, 2018). After serving as South Africa's President for almost 9 years, Jacob Zuma stepped down from the role on February 14, 2018 leaving a broken democracy behind. During his presidency Zuma faced several scandals, including accusations of benefiting from, "$24 million in taxpayer money spent on "security upgrades" made to his rural residence, including a swimming pool and cattle pen" (Taylor, 2018). He was also found liable in multiple corruption cases, including accepting bribes and forming corrupt relationships with wealthy families in South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africans 5th President since the end of apartheid in 1994) was elected by parliament to replace Zuma effective immediately after his predecessor's resignation. Already during his Presidency, there have been several dramatic changes in South Africa's constitution, including an amendment that allows for the expropriation of white-owned land without (Chung, 2018) compensation. The driving force behind this is to redistribute the land evenly among black and white citizens to make up for land lost during the apartheid years.

Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (a radical Marxist opposition party in South Africa), brought forth the motion saying, "The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice, we must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land" (Chung, 2018). Ramaphosa was very supportive of this movement and made expropriation a key element of his policy platform after taking office. The current amendment allows the government to forcibly take away land: "the Constitution does not require the state to pay the owner of expropriated property the market value for the property when it is expropriated. Instead, the state is required to pay 'just and equitable' compensation, reflecting an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of those affected." Although there is a large amount of support for this movement, some are concerned with the effectiveness of the amendment.

The redistribution of land by a government with a history of corruption does not bode well for the economy or for the well-being of society. In 2000, Zimbabwe's government expropriated white farmers without compensation and destroyed pension funds which brought foreign investment to a halt, with hyperinflation and food shortages to follow. This dramatic reversal of fortunes in Zimbabwe has been blamed on a controversial policy introduced by Mr. Mugabe...

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