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South Africa - an unequal society

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South Africa - an unequal society

Post  Glob the Funct on Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:03 pm

South Africa remains nearly 20 years after the end of Apartheid, one of the most unequal societies in the world.

We probably all know that under Apartheid inequality was legislated on the basis of race. I will however give a short background.
People classified as "white" were given certain priviledges in terms of quality of education, where they could live, what sort of work they could do, and of course - the vote.

I the early 1990s, this ligislation was repealed, including the classification of people according to race.

South Africa today has universal franchise, and a democratically elected government, a Liberal Constitution, and a relatively free press. What then are the issues that maintain such inequality?

Firstly the Constitution guaranteed the rights to property of those that held the wealth - the middle class, mainly "white", and foregn investors. There was no wholesale redistribution of wealth, meaning that the poor underclasses remained so. There was a good reason to maintain the status quo, that is to prevent the flight of Capital and skills. Thus the South African economy has remained robust, unlike the experience in many post-colonial African countries.

Secondly the skills base has remained in the hands of the minority middle class, no longer exclusively "white". This is due to a non-uniformity in education standards, and limited access to quality education for the poor underclass. While many leave school with a qualification, this does not relate to skills that can be sold to the Private sector for a decent wage. An example is the rural farmworkers who have recently been on strike, who have earned a minimum wage of $6 per day. This will probably be increased to $11 per day, still way below what is required for a decent living.

Thirdly there remains high unemployment amongst the poor. It has been estimated variously at between 30% and 50%. Pressure on employers to increase wages has resulted in jobs being shed to mechanisation. At the same time unemployment amongst the middle classes is very low, probably no more than 5%, they have skills which are in short supply.

Those are the facts as I see them. Perhaps there are some here that might suggest a way forward?
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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  arpie on Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:51 am

My first of many questions would be what percentage of the population is online? Just roughly. And how does it break down ethnically? If those designated under apartheid as colored have no access to the world dialectic, their voices will never be heard. How many have cell phones would be second question, and what percentage are literate?

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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  arpie on Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:50 pm

Anxiously awaiting some elucidation Glob. Am really curious about how few from Africa I have encountered online. Question

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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  nullnvoid on Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:28 pm

I don't think that any of us are going to be able to offer some magical advice that will make South Africa suddenly equal. But one thing I've noticed with any South African ex-pats I've met...they seem fairly sexist.

Do you find that sexism is highly prevalent in SA?

Also are there a profusion of missionaries trying to influence legislation on issues like abortion, condom use and gay rights?

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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  Glob the Funct on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:29 pm

arpie wrote:My first of many questions would be what percentage of the population is online? Just roughly. And how does it break down ethnically? If those designated under apartheid as colored have no access to the world dialectic, their voices will never be heard. How many have cell phones would be second question, and what percentage are literate?
Roughly one in five have internet access, and one in four would have cell phones. The literacy rate at a basic level is probably 80%. Remember that a minority have English as their home language.
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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  Glob the Funct on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:35 pm

nullnvoid wrote:I don't think that any of us are going to be able to offer some magical advice that will make South Africa suddenly equal. But one thing I've noticed with any South African ex-pats I've met...they seem fairly sexist.

Please don't judge South Africans on the basis of ex-pats. Many left because they couldn't handle living under a democratic government. They might tone down their racism a bit more than their sexism. One shouldn't generalise though, there may be as many reasons for leaving South Africa, as there are ex-pats.

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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  Glob the Funct on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:42 pm

nullnvoid wrote:
Do you find that sexism is highly prevalent in SA?
Again it is a difficult generalisation. Amongst the educated middle classes, it is no more prevalent than it would be in Europe for instance. In rural areas, polygamy is still practised, and women have limited rights under tribal law.
It remains an issue not yet clarified in South African Constitutional law, as do many other contradictions that exist in South Africa. Do individual rights supercede cultural identity?

Also are there a profusion of missionaries trying to influence legislation on issues like abortion, condom use and gay rights?
No we ate 'em all.
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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  nullnvoid on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:50 pm

Glob the Funct wrote:
Please don't judge South Africans on the basis of ex-pats. Many left because they couldn't handle living under a democratic government. They might tone down their racism a bit more than their sexism. One shouldn't generalise though, there may be as many reasons for leaving South Africa, as there are ex-pats.

I try not to - which is why I asked...I've worked with a few ex-pat south Africans. One of whom was ex military and had participated in the border war with Angola. He was a little more extreme than the others, although it would be fair to say that none of them were particularly feminist. The biggest racist complaint among them was usually a reference to the post apartheid laws requiring new businesses to have partial ownership by someone of colour. I have no idea if that was made up by them or a particular mis-representation by them of the government policies.

I suppose I was asking about sexism because holding back women from participating in society can hamper development of a country as much as holding back people who have a particular skin colour... The talent pool gets limited when you cut out your population on such ridiculous lines.

Glob the Funct wrote:Do individual rights supercede cultural identity?

Oh fuck yes.

This question appears murky when it really isn't. It becomes really clear when you look at the extreme case - should cultural traditions like female genital mutilation, honour killing or punishments like Rape being imposed on transgressors be imposed on individuals against their consent?

Cultural identities MUST be voluntary or they are not worth retaining.

Glob the Funct wrote:No we ate 'em all.

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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  Glob the Funct on Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:55 pm

nullnvoid wrote: The biggest racist complaint among them was usually a reference to the post apartheid laws requiring new businesses to have partial ownership by someone of colour. I have no idea if that was made up by them or a particular mis-representation by them of the government policies.
This is not correct. There are no laws requiring ownership, but there is a preference in terms of government tenders to companies that have mixed ownership. I can't criticise the intention as it is supposed to uplift and empower the poor. Reality is that it creates 'windowdressing' companies that contribute nothing but add costs, and make a few individuals obscenely rich. There is a word for them in South Africa: "tenderpreneurs".
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Re: South Africa - an unequal society

Post  Glob the Funct on Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:03 pm

nullnvoid wrote:
Glob the Funct wrote:Do individual rights supercede cultural identity?

Oh fuck yes.

This question appears murky when it really isn't. It becomes really clear when you look at the extreme case - should cultural traditions like female genital mutilation, honour killing or punishments like Rape being imposed on transgressors be imposed on individuals against their consent?

Cultural identities MUST be voluntary or they are not worth retaining.


Unfortunately it isn't that clear cut. There are traditionalists that claim that the old tribal ways pre-date colonialism. Ownership wasn't individual, but community based. Therefore the imposition of Western Liberal values such as individualism are not compatible with the traditional communalistic approach.
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