Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Since Mandela

South Africa is the continent's most industrialised country, with its gross domestic product (GDP) rising from $139.8bn in 1994 to $368.9bn in 2018, according to the World Bank.
"The record growth the country witnessed after apartheid was partly due to the boom in the global commodity prices. On average, the economy grew about 3 percent every year," economist Azar Jamine told Al Jazeera.
But in recent years, the economy has been hit by a slump amid high unemployment and dips in key sectors. Moody's is the last of three main global rating firms to rate South Africa's debt at investment level, and it is due to review the rating next month after downgrading the outlook to negative last year.
In January, the International Monetary Fund said it expected Africa's second-biggest economy to grow at 0.8 percent this year, down from a previous forecast for 1.1 percent growth. For 2021, it forecast growth of 1.0 percent, down from an earlier prediction for 1.4 percent growth.
"Inequality is high, persistent, and has increased since 1994," the World Bank said in a 2018 reportThe top 1 percent of South Africans own 70.9 percent of the country's wealth, it added, while the bottom 60 percent hold just the 7 percent.
The body also said South Africa has the highest Gini index in the world: 63 percent. The index measures a country's wealth distribution - the closer a value is to zero the more equal the residents of that country are. 
The $1.90 a day poverty rate increased from 16.8 percent to 18.8 percent between 2011 and 2015.

 Dale McKinley, a political analyst, explained, "On the socioeconomic front, little has changed. In fact, things have gotten worse when it comes to basic services like healthcare, housing and education." 

Healthcare remains out of reach for many South Africans.
"Healthcare is the third-largest item of government expenditure, and yet there is a fundamental disjoint between what we are spending on healthcare and the health outcomes of our citizens," President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged in 2018. "It pained me, as it should every citizen of this country, to hear how this most fundamental of rights, of access to healthcare services, has been impacted by the stench of corruption. Corruption in the health system is not a victimless crime. It targets the poorest and most vulnerable in our society."
In its 2019 corruption perception index, Transparency International ranked South Africa 70 out of 180 countries. 
Speaking at the FT Africa Summit in London last year, Ramaphosa said South Africa lost $34bn, about a 10th of the country's GDP, to corruption during the decade that his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was in power. Ramaphosa, who took office as president in 2018, was Zuma's deputy for four years.
"Corruption is a huge problem in South Africa," McKinley said. "It is deep and runs all the way from the top down to district level..." 
Analysts say the country's education system does not prepare graduates for the job market.
"Only about 15 percent of the schools in South Africa are outstanding. Eighty-five percent are weak at best. This has huge impact on our workforce and the quality of our output as a country," Jamine said.
One of the key promises of the ANC after coming to power was to redistribute land - the country's black majority were denied ownership rights under apartheid's segregation laws.
The ANC followed a "willing seller, willing buyer" model through which the government bought white-owned farms for redistribution. However, progress has been slow and most of the farmland is still owned by white farmers.
At least 72 percent of the country's arable land remains in the hands of whites, who make up less than 10 percent of the 58-million population, according to a 2017 land audit.

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