We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

FACTBOX - South Africa since Apartheid

South Africa has seen huge social change under 18 years of rule by the African National Congress (ANC), which will hold a major policy meeting this week. In many areas of people’s lives, though, the legacy of decades of white-minority government is still painfully evident in the self-styled “Rainbow nation”.

Following are some comparisons between the present day and the situation before the ANC won the first all-race elections in 1994:


  — Under apartheid, segregation was mandated by law. Barred from “white” areas, blacks had to live in townships or impoverished rural areas know as Bantustans.

  — The apartheid government built few houses for blacks. When Nelson Mandela’s ANC came to power, there was one formal brick house for every 43 blacks compared with one for every 3,5 whites.

  — A 1996 census showed that 3,1 million urban and rural families lived in “informal” houses — the government euphemism for shanty-towns or squatter camps.

  — From 1994 to 2010 the housing backlog has grown from 1,5 million families to more than 2,1 million, according to the Housing Department. This means 12 million South Africans, or one quarter of the population, are still without a proper roof over their heads.


  — Before 1994, 15 million people lacked safe water supplies and 20 million had little or no sanitation.

  — In its 1994 election campaign, the ANC promised to ensure all South Africans had permanent access to clean water by 2010.

It has fallen short of this target, but has made a significant dent in the problem.

  — In 1994, only 61,7% of homes had access to basic water supplies. By 2010, this figure had climbed to 86%.


  — Despite an affirmative action push to boost black wealth and ownership of the economy, income inequality remains very high and rigidly defined along racial lines.

  — In 2006, blacks made up 79% of the population but earned just 41% of the national income. By contrast, whites, who made up just 9% of South Africans, earned 45%.

  — Of the richest 10% of the population, 17% are black against 73% white. The rest is accounted for by a sizeable Indian minority and mixed-race South Africans officially known as ‘coloureds’.


  — Official unemployment fell from a high of 29% in 2000 but remains worryingly high at about 25%.

  — There is an even more worrying picture behind the headline statistics, which do not include those deemed unfit to work or those who have dropped out of the labour market. Since 2001, South Africa’s employment to population ratio has been consistently low, at 51% for men and 37% for women, and with an average for both sexes of 43%.

  — More than a million people lost their jobs in a 2009 recession, although employment grew by 1,5%, or 193,000 jobs, in the three months to the end of September 2011, its strongest rise since the slowdown, suggesting the economy may have turned the corner.

Would you like to comment on this article? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

Commenting is subject to our house rules.