The Current Post-apartheid Climate in Relationship to he Existence of Inequality in South Africa

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This paper will discuss the current post-apartheid climate in relationship to the existence of inequality in South Africa, the spread of HIV and racial tensions after apartheid was abolished. This paper will define apartheid and illustrate different types of racial inequality, skilled labor and social inequality, the spread of HIV and how it all impacted South Africa.

Apartheid called for separate development of different racial groups in S.A. which resulted in racial inequalities in all spheres of S.A. society. Apartheid laws affected different racial groups, caused separation and develop separately which resulted into inequality and brought back segregation policies that existed before. The Afrikaner National Party came in power in 1948 (SAHO, 2019). “When the African National Congress government under Nelson Mandela came to power through the democratic elections in 1994, there was huge expectation among the historically-disadvantaged Black majority that apartheid inequalities would be eradicated, and that their lives would improve dramatically”. However, capitalism to post-apartheid had increased the racial inequality in skills development, unemployment and cultural racism in South Africa.

Additionally, these transitions were rooted in a long struggle against apartheid and colonialism, they were also in?uenced by neo-liberal globalization, which has swept across the world since the 1980s and created a need for skills development to facilitate transnational economic trade and exchanges.

There are three types of racial inequality and these include; Cultural racism which refers to a type of racism that is a result of one group’s advantageous position in society over another. This type of racism refers to one group’s ability to determine how certain values or practices become legitimate parts of a culture. Slavery in the United States and apartheid in South Africa are examples of cultural racism (Franklin, Boyd-Franklin, & Kelly, 2006). Secondly, individual racism is the prejudices toward other groups that an individual display or believes in (Franklin, Boyd-Franklin, & Kelly, 2006).

These actions or behaviors are fueled by beliefs that there are hierarchical differences between races. The third type of racism is the Institutional racism which encompasses policies or procedures of a certain institution such as a company, a community, or a governing body that restrict or discriminate against certain groups (Franklin, Boyd-Franklin, & Kelly, 2006). This type of racism refers to one group’s ability to determine how certain values or practices become legitimate parts of a culture. Slavery in the United States and apartheid in South Africa are examples of cultural racism (Franklin, Boyd-Franklin, & Kelly, 2006)

Social inequality has impacted people in South Africa since the apartheid era, minority groups of blacks have incurred income inequality and labor markets (Leibbrandt & Woolard, 2001). This impact led to the inequitable mental health status of young South Africans. Racial/ ethnic disadvantage with respect to most material disadvantage indicators which included high risk of violence acts and racial bullying resulting into the prevalence of mental illness disparities in South Africa under apartheid. The children mostly impacted were born in the apartheid era and have suffered poverty, indicators which justify the inequalities within this social group (Leibbrandt & Woolard, 2001).

In 1994, the skills levels, division of labor, employment/unemployment and income inequalities showed trends as illustrated in Saul and Gelb’s analysis of developments in the 1960s and 1970s, captured in the following statement which provided an historical backdrop for this section, as stated that in 1960s, “there was failure to create suf?cient jobs to absorb the growing labor force and unemployment rose steeply, reaching over 12 percent in 1970 and de?ning a looming political threat.” As then-Prime Minister John Vorster commented that, “the biggest danger in South Africa today is not terrorism, but unemployment’’ (Saul & Gelb 1986, p. 71).

Mark Orkin’s statistical analysis of the occupations of people employed in the formal economy in 1996 shows that 50 percent of African females were employed in low-ranking menial jobs in comparison with almost 50 percent of White women who were in clerical work.
A further breakdown of Orkin’s statistics showed that amongst employed Africans, 34% of males and 50% of females are working in elementary occupations such as cleaning, garbage collecting and agricultural labor.

Hence, that white males tend to have access to occupations requiring higher level of competencies which included three main occupational categories, management (19%), blue-collar jobs (29%), semi-professional/technical category (17%). These structural class, race and gender inequalities in the distribution of occupations re?ect the class, race and gender patterns which characterize income inequality (Orkin 1996, p. 18).

Income inequality is determined, among other factors, by unemployment. South Africa’s apartheid era statistically revealed that access to employment continues to re?ect race and gender inequalities. Given the low levels of skills among black people occupying low-paying jobs. Statistical analysis showed that 14.4 million who were economically active in 1995 (Orkin 1996, p. 13) ‘‘African economically active women are most likely to be unemployed (47%), followed by African males (29%), and then by black women (28%). White females (8%) and males (4%) are least likely to be unemployed’’ (Orkin (1996), p. 15) reported that low-skilled Black people access low-income jobs and have limited opportunities for any employment.

In 1997 a legislation was passed for equal employment. Among its provisions were measures designed to further diversity in the workplace based on the equal dignity and respect of all people, affirmative action measures which included preferential treatment, to appoint and promote suitably qualified people from designated groups to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce (Zelda Groener).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) decided at the end of Apartheid which in return created a new democratic society. A number of options were considered which included; the Nuremberg trial option in which they would essentially search out perpetrators and try them in court; a second was to grant a general amnesty to Apartheid criminals which were rejected because the former would prolong the negativity and racial strife and the latter was far too lenient to the perpetrators of Apartheid (Kruger, 2011; Zelda Groener, 2013).

The principles governing the TRC encompassed decisions based on what people had confessed and were given amnesty and people who could prove that they had been substantially harmed during Apartheid were eligible for compensation and reparation (Kruger, 2011).

Yu, (2013) and Orkin et la (1998) reported that of the 31.7 million Africans, 19,8 million live in non-urban areas and mainly young African children, women and older people than men. Additionally, African households in non-urban areas are unlikely to have access to electricity, tap water to flush toilets or telephones.

(Nattrass and Nicoli, 2008) argued that this reassertion of Cabinet authority over presidential authority was one of the positive impacts of AIDS on governance in South Africa. That this Cabinet revolt was a blow to the Health Minister is clear. Rather than actively supporting the roll-out, the Health Minister persistently pointed to the side-effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) whilst highlighting the benefits of nutrition, saying that patients must exercise their choice in treatment strategies. This generated fear and confusion amongst AIDS patients over ARVs and created the space for alternative remedies to compete with HAART, even though their clinical effects were at best unproven.

Decoteau, (2013) utilizes Michel Foucault’s theory of “thanatopolitics” to explain the South African governments abandonment of its citizens. Mbeki was occupied by forging an African Renaissance in which South Africa would emerge as a competitive neoliberal market, he adopted a mindset of entrepreneurialism in which poor South Africans would either take responsibility or be left behind to die. Decoteau argues, however, that the struggles concerning HIV/AIDS and anti-retroviral have deeper meaning in the identity formation of South Africa and its citizens. Throughout her book, (Ancestors and Antiretrovirals: The Biopolitics of HIV/AIDS in Post-Apartheid), Decoteau explains the topic of HIV/AIDS by examining both the daily lives of residents in South African informal settlements and the global political economy in which they reside. The strength of this book is Decoteaus approach to situating the experiences of South African citizens within the contexts of poverty, informal settlements, gender, and HIV/AIDS within a larger global context.

As these inequalities are addressed, not only racial differences, but also discrepancies in urban and non-urban life circumstances in South Africa will require careful monitoring in future.

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The Current Post-apartheid Climate in Relationship to he Existence of Inequality in South Africa. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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