Mandela's life achievement overshadowed.
By, Uwe Paschen.
This 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and the end of Apartheid that followed are overshadowed by South Africa’s ailments. This event of immense historical significance not only for South Africa but also for humanity over all is being celebrated almost unnoticed out side of Africa.
Nelson Mandela, who is today 91 years old, was freed in 1990 after spending 27 years in a South African prison and went on to lead South Africa through the final stretch of a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy.
The celebration to commemorate this event was held on Thursday of this week.
Mandela's persona, charisma and statesmanship are the reasons that things went so well in this transition from Apartheid to a free and democratic South Africa has it is today.
However, this anniversary is overshadowed by South Africa’s overwhelming problems such as its Aids/HIV crisis, since it is the country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world. The country’s Department of Health estimates that 18.3% of adults (15–49 years) were living with HIV in 2006. More than half (55%) of all South Africans infected with HIV reside in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces. HIV/AIDS has a tremendous impact on all sectors of the South Africa's economy; this includes microeconomic and macroeconomic perspectives.
Even though South Africa is rich with mineral resources. Being the world's largest producer and exporter of gold and platinum and also exporting a significant amount of coal and other raw materials, making it one of the world wealthiest countries in Natural resources, it still has to deal with an overwhelming poverty. Official figures suggest around 25% of South Africans are unemployed. 50% of all households are being classified as poor, 27% as extremely poor and 21% living with less then one dollar per day. A study from the Centre for Social and Development Studies, at the University of Natal, shows that 45% of the population is rural, however, the rural areas contain 72% of the total population who are poor. The poverty rate for rural areas is 71%. This Poverty is not confined to any one race group, but is highest among blacks with 61% being Black Africans and 38% of mixed race are poor, compared with 5% of Indians and 1% of Whites. Three children in five live in poor households and many of those children are exposed to public and domestic violence, malnutrition, and inconsistent parenting and schooling. Woman headed households with Children are most vulnerable to poverty in South Africa making up 60% of all poverty.
South Africa also counts the highest degree of inequality in the World today. Examining the income shares of deciles of households brings this extreme of inequality to light. Using this approach, the poorest 40% of households account for only 11% of total income, while the richest 10% of households, equivalent to only 7% of the population, accrue over 40% of total income.
Poverty and Aids are not all that plagues South Africa today. Corruption is another malaise the country has to deal with.
This being reflected in the corruption trial of Jackie Selebi, the country’s former chief of police and one-time Interpol boss, wish is to resume next month, or the head of Armscor, the state defence-procurement company, who was recently sacked for dishonesty. Further, there is the managing director of the freight-rail division of Trans- net, the state transport company, who is fighting his suspension for an alleged serious breach of procurement regulations and the list goes on.
There are also such political troubles as the AbaThembu clan in the Eastern Cape province, of witch former President Nelson Mandela is a part of, this clan intends to recuse itself as part of South Africa and form its own independent state by next year.
Finally, South Africa is confronted with a massive exodus, counting over 800,000 qualified South African such as Doctors, Engineer, Accountants, Nurses, Teachers and other professions that have left the country since 1995, causing now an alarming shortage of skilled labour in the country, the primary cause for this exodus among all groups seems to be fear of crimes.
Wich leads us to yet another growing problem South Africa has to deal with, In 2006 alone, official figures show that there were some 18,500 murders, over 20,000 attempted murders, 55,000 reported rapes and 120,000 violent robberies.
South Africa does certainly have more then its fair chair of troubles to deal with. Never the less the country would probably be in far worth shape had it not been for Mandela’s leadership and influence that still today caries a lot of weight and this not only in South Africa but more so through out the African continent and even the World.
In the spirit of Nelson Mandela, “Let us commit ourselves to building a better future for all South Africans, black and white," said Zuma, South Africa’s current President, in a public speech given to the occasion of Mandela’s release from prison 20 years ago.
With out Mandela the nation-building and inter-racial reconciliation that South Africa underwent would not have been possible, nor would it have been as peaceful a transition as it ended up being. Sadly, today’s troubles do cast an unjust shadow over Mandela’s titanic achievements for all South African.
South Africa is just emerging from a recession and is still struggling with over 50 million unemployed and the scars Apartheid left behind have not yet healed either, at least not completely.
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