The Country (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
South Africa is located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. It has 7 percent of the population of Africa south of the Sahara, but its gross national income at purchasing power parity (GNI-PPP) is 43 percent of the total. South Africa is the most economically advanced country in Africa. Its economy has been heavily dependent on energy-intensive industries such as mining and manufacturing. In 2008, the gross domestic product of South Africa was $489.7 billion and the country ranked as the world’s twenty-sixth largest economy. The prominent land features in the country are a vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and a narrow coastal plain. Key resources include platinum group metals, gold, coal, diamond, chromium, manganese, vanadium, nickel, antimony, iron ore, phosphates, tin, uranium, and copper.
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Platinum Group Metals (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
South Africa’s share of world reserves of platinum group metals (PGM) amounts to 85 percent. PGM mining is the largest mining industry in the country. South Africa is the world’s leading producer of PGM. In 2005, the country’s shares of world platinum and palladium production were 78 percent and 39 percent, respectively. South Africa’s production of PGM increased to 307.5 metric tons from 303 metric tons in 2005 and 276.4 metric tons in 2004. In 2005, national exports of platinum, rhodium, palladium, and ruthenium amounted to $3.82 billion, $580 million, $284 million, and $53.9 million, respectively. In 2006, exports of PGM amounted to $7.9 billion.
The platium group metals include a geochemically coherent group of siderophile to chalcophile metals such as osmium (Os), iridium (Ir), ruthenium (Ru), rhodium (Rh), platinum (Pt), and palladium (Pd). Platinum is the most important metal in the group. Large layered intrusions account for 90 percent of the world’s PGM resources. The Bushveld Complex in South Africa alone accounts for about 80 percent of all PGM resources; more than two-thirds of the total world production of PGM comes from the Bushveld Complex. Other significant producers of PGM are from Noril’sk-Talnakh deposits (Siberian Platform), the Great Dyke (Zimbabwe), and the Stillwater Complex (United States). The global demand for platinum is shared by four market segments: jewelry, autocatalyst...
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Gold (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
South Africa’s share of world reserves of gold is about 14 percent. Gold mining is the second largest mining industry in the country. In 2006, export of gold was worth $5.41 billion. South African gold production peaked in 1970, when it accounted for 67 percent of world production. The long-term decline in the country’s gold output continued in the first decade of the twenty-first century. National gold-mine production decreased to 272.1 metric tons in 2006 from 294.6 metric tons in 2005, 337.2 metric tons in 2004, and 394.8 metric tons in 2001. The decline was broadly based and included each of South Africa’s five ranked gold producers. The South African share of world gold production was 27 percent in 1993, 17 percent in 1998, 15 percent in 2003, and 11 percent in 2006. On the other hand, China’s total gold production increased steadily over the same time period. In 2007, China overtook South Africa to become the world’s largest gold producer.
In 1886, gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand ridge in South Africa. This discovery dwarfed all other previous gold discoveries and made South Africa the world’s leading producer of gold. Virtually all of South Africa’s gold is from the late Archean quartz-pebble conglomerates of the Witwatersrand basin. South Africa dominated the global gold market for most of the twentieth century; its production peaked in 1970. The South African mining industry pioneered methods and...
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Coal (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Coal mining is the third largest mining industry in South Africa. In 2006, South Africa’s production of coal was about 2.4 million metric tons, which was close to the 2005 production. More than 99 percent of the country’s coal output is bituminous coal. South Africa is Africa’s leading producer of coal, accounting for more than 95 percent of continental production. In 2005, exports of coal amounted to $3.25 billion. South Africa has only small deposits of oil and natural gas. Coal is the major energy resource in the country. In the past, South Africa had limited access to foreign oil because of international sanctions imposed on the country as a result of its policy of apartheid. South Africa’s economy is heavily dependent on coal. Coal provides about 88 percent of total primary energy and 90 percent of electricity generation. Sasol, a partly state-owned company, has built several coal-to-liquids (CTL) plants and provides feedstock for nearly one-third of the country’s liquid fuels.
South Africa has the world’s sixth largest recoverable coal reserves at approximately 5 percent of the world total. Nearly 70 percent of recoverable reserves lie in three coal fields, Highveld, Waterberg, and Witbank. South Africa accounts for about 3 percent of world coal consumption. The majority of coal is used in electricity generation and the synthetic-fuel industry. Almost one-third of coal produced in South Africa is exported to the...
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Diamond (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
In the nineteenth century, diamond was among the most valuable of mineral commodities per unit weight or size. Diamonds were mostly found in alluvial deposits in India and Brazil. In 1866, a South African Boer farmer’s son, Erasmus Jacobs, found a transparent stone in the sand bed of the Vaal River. This important discovery made South Africa a major diamond producer and changed the diamond industry. Cecil Rhodes moved to South Africa and founded De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., in 1888. This consortium was established to control the production and sale of the world’s diamonds. Kimberley Mine, excavated in Kimberly, South Africa, was one of the early rich diamond mines brought into the De Beers syndicate. The hole is 495 meters deep and produced more than fourteen million carats of diamonds in its short life. The operation and discovery of diamond mines also helped geologists understand the genesis of diamond. The unique rock formation kimberlite was named after the South African town of Kimberly. Kimberlite is a potassic, ultrabasic, hybrid igneous rock containing large crystals of olivine, enstatite, chromium-rich diopside, phlogopite, pyropealmandine garnet, and magnesium-rich ilmenite in a fine-grained groundmass. Kimberlites and lamproites have been considered primary sources of diamond. Diamond was originally formed in Earth’s mantle 100 to 300 kilometers below the surface under extremely high temperature and pressure. Rapid...
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Chromium (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Chromium is a metal in demand for its alloying and refractory properties. Chromite is the only ore mineral of chromium. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s chromite reserves and 90 percent of the world’s chromite resources come from stratiform deposits. The layered complex of South Africa, the Bushveld Complex, accounts for the bulk of the reserves and resources. In 2006, South Africa accounted for 40 percent of the world’s chromite production. Production of chromite decreased to 7.42 million metric tons in 2006 from 7.49 metric tons in 2005 and 7.68 metric tons in 2004. In 2006, South Africa’s exports of chromite amounted to $73 million.
In 2004 and 2005, about 84 percent of the country’s chromite output was sold domestically. Most domestic chromite was consumed by ferrochromium producers. South Africa is also the world’s leading producer of ferrochromium. In 2005, nearly 41 percent of global ferrochromium was produced in South Africa. Exports of ferrochromium amounted to $1.53 billion in 2006 and $1.56 billion in 2005. Not only is South Africa the world’s major producer of chromite and ferrochromium, but also its chromium industry has attracted many foreign investors in recent years. African Rainbow Minerals Ltd. and its joint-venture partner Lionore Mining International Ltd. of Canada planned to open the Nkomati chromite mine. Hernic Ferrochrome (Pty.) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan, operated...
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Other Resources (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
South Africa has many additional world-class resources. The Bushveld Complex is the largest and most extensively studied layered intrusion. Significant amounts of resources, such as nickel, copper, vanadium, tin, fluorite, andalusite, and asbestos, have also been discovered and mined in the complex. The quartz-pebble conglomerate formation of the Witwatersrand basin not only is the world’s largest gold deposit but also is one of the world’s largest uranium deposits. Uranium is produced as a by-product of gold mining in Witwatersrand. All of South Africa’s uranium output has typically been exported, and enriched uranium has been imported for use in the Koeberg nuclear reactor.
South Africa is the world’s largest producer of manganese, with approximately 80 percent of the world’s reserve base of manganese ore. In 2006, manganese ore exports amounted to $224 million and exports of manganese metal and manganese alloys amounted to $494 million. South Africa is also the world’s leading producer of vanadium and exported about $591 million worth of it in 2005. South Africa was the world’s leading producer of vermiculite and accounted for nearly 40 percent of world production in 2005.
South Africa accounts for nearly 3 percent of world iron-ore production, and iron-ore exports amounted to $982 million in 2005. Columbus Stainless (Pty.) Ltd. operated South Africa’s only stainless-steel plant and accounted for...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Bradshaw, Michael, et al., eds. Essentials of World Regional Geography. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2007.
Butterman W. C., and Earle B. Amey III. Mineral Commodity Profiles: Gold. Reston, Va.: U.S. Geological Survey, 2005.
Coakley, George J. “The Mineral Industry of South Africa.” In USGS Minerals Yearbook 2002. Reston, Va.: U.S. Geological Survey, 2002.
Craig, James R., David J. Vaughan, and Brian J. Skinner. Resources of the Earth: Origin, Use, and Environmental Impact. 3d ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2001.
De Blij, Harm J., and Peter O. Muller. Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts. 13th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2008.
Evans, Anthony M. Ore Geology and Industrial Minerals: An Introduction. 3d ed. Boston: Blackwell Science, 1993.
Misra, Kula C. Understanding Mineral Deposits. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2000.
Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: South Africa. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sf.html
Energy Information Administration. International Energy Data and Analysis for South Africa. http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/country/country_energy_data.cfm?fips=SF
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Historical and Political Context (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Native South Africans were immigrants from other parts of Africa. Since 1652, South Africa was occupied by Europeans for over 300 years. The power shifted between the Dutch and the British through all these years and sometime was shared by the two parties. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company founded Cape Town. In 1806, the British took over Cape Town. The Boers, descendants of the Dutch settlers, founded their own republics in the South African interior. In 1899-1902, the Boers and the British fought the Anglo-Boer War for the control of South Africa’s diamonds and gold. The British won the war. In 1910, South Africa became a British dominion. The Boers later negotiated with the British and gained hegemony.
Under Europeans’ control, racial discrimination and racial segregation were generally practiced. The infamous policies of apartheid were officially made into laws in 1948 and were enforced for nearly forty years. Laws divided South African residents into racial groups including black, colored, Asian, and white. The whites lived in the white area, which covered more than 80 percent of South African land. Nonwhites had to carry permits when entering white areas. Laws also segregated educational standards, job categories, and public facilities. Through the “homeland” system established in 1959, blacks were deprived of their citizenship and forced to live in the so-called tribal homelands, which...
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Impact of South African Policies on Climate Change (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
In the last four decades, South Africa has lost a large area of natural habitat mainly due to extensive economic development and deforestation during the nineteenth century. The early European settlers exploited South Africa’s forest brutally. Nowadays forest only covers approximately 1 percent of South Africa. Coal is the major energy resource in South Africa. In the past, South Africa had limited access to foreign oil due to anti-apartheid sanctions. Sasol Ltd., a partly state-owned company, built several coal-to-liquids (CTL) plants. These CTL plants became big greenhouse (GHG) emitters. Sasol’s Secunda CTL plant is one of the largest single emitters of CO2 on Earth.
After 1994’s democratic election, the South African government implemented the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). RDP intended to meet people’s basic needs and create jobs through public works. In 1996, a new economic policy called Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) was adopted. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the South African government started to promote independent power producers (IPPs) in the South African electricity market. However, the government did not make much progress on these policies due to the lack of investment in infrastructure.
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South Africa as a GHG Emitter (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
According to the Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT), in 1990, South Africa emitted 303.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in GHGs. Annual GHG emission increased to 348.0 million metric tons CO2 equivalent and 383.6 million metric tons CO2 equivalent in 2000 and 2005, respectively. GHG emissions ranked 17, 19, and 20 among the twenty top GHG emitters worldwide in 1990, 2000, and 2005, respectively. In the past two decades, South Africa’s annual GHG emission contributed about 1.1-1.2 percent of total GHG emissions worldwide. In the past decade, GHG emission has increased nearly 2 percent annually. Mining and the energy industry contributed most of the GHG emissions in South Africa. The state-owned utility, Eskom, contributed to about 50 percent of the nation’s GHG emissions. Eskom provides 95 percent of the country’s electricity.
The international community agreed to address global climate change and drafted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the subsequent Kyoto Protocol. South Africa ratified the Convention in 1997. In 2001, the Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP-7) to the UNFCCC reached agreement to facilitate the accession of the Kyoto Protocol, and South Africa acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. South Africa is classified as a non-Annex I (or developing) country and is not obliged to adhere to a commitment to reduce GHG...
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Summary and Foresight (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
South Africa is the most economically advanced country in Africa. Its economy has heavily depended on energy-intensive industries. Although its government has often been commended for taking active roles in controlling climate change, GHG emissions still increased significantly in the past decade. The government made many ambitious plans to reduce GHG emissions, such as generating 15 percent of electricity from renewable resources by 2020; conducting a National Greening Strategy through forestry development; promoting energy-efficient lighting; and reducing the use of coal for energy. For example, South Africa is committed to “greening” the 2010 World Cup by conserving water and energy and reducing GHG emissions.
Although apartheid has been replaced by multiracial democracy, consequences of apartheid still influence South Africa’s politics and society. Recent elections still show a major racial divide in the country. The income imparity between white and black remains significant. The governing party has stressed its commitment to economic development and environmental protection. However, the nation is still facing serious challenges such as poverty, unemployment, environmental degradation, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
McKinley, James C. “Global Warming: Around the Globe, Big Worries and Small Signs of Progress.” The New York Times, December 1, 1997. Discusses South Africa as the most economically advanced country in Africa and a major contributor to the continent’s GHG emissions. Africa’s least developed nations contribute very few GHGs but suffer the most from climate change.
Scholes, R. J., and M. R. Van der Merwe. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from South Africa.” South African Journal of Science 92, no. 5 (1996): 220-222. Provides an overview of historical trends in South Africa’s GHG emissions.
South Africa. Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. South Africa’s Review Report for the Sixteenth Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. New York: United Nations, 2008. Reflects the views and opinions of an inclusive group of South African stakeholders who represent economic, social, and environmental perspectives on sustainable development.
Winkler, Harald, ed. “Energy Policies for Sustainable Development in South Africa.” Cape Town, South Africa: Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town, 2006. Profile of energy and sustainable development in South Africa that uses modeling tools and indicators to assess future policy options for the country.
Winkler, Harald, et al. “Multi-project Baselines for Potential Clean Development Mechanism...
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South Africa (Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity)
Old South African history books date the beginning of the country to the arrival of the first Europeans at the tip of the African continent in 1652. The Dutch East India Company needed a refreshment station for its ships while sailing around Africa to trade with its empire in Batavia (Indonesia). However, when Jan Van Riebeek founded the settlement that was called the Cape of Good Hope, the first three dozen company employees did not raise cattle and grow fruits and vegetables on empty territory. Like European colonialists everywhere
In this analysis the common label of "African" for the black majority does not preclude members of other groups from being African in the political sense of citizens belonging to the African continent as it is their only home and place of origin. In contrast to the Middle East, all parties in South Africa have accepted this status of original "settlers." Therefore, not all Africans are black, and not all blacks are Africans. It should also be noted that since the rise of the black consciousness movement in the late 1960s, "black" has become a proud political term, comprising politically conscious members of all three disenfranchised groups, including South Africans of Indian descent and those of mixed origin (the coloreds).
In the Western Cape there were two distinct aboriginal groups: (1) the Khoikhoi, seminomadic herders and (2) San-speakers, hunting and gathering people, whom the Europeans derogatively referred to as Bushmen. A hundred years later and 500 kilometers further east, the expanding settlers clashed with a third indigenous people, who spoke yet another language and practiced a different way of life: (3) agriculturalists who made their living from subsistence farming and were called Bantu, or in modern times blacks or Africans.
Because Africans were more numerous and better organized in rudimentary states with chiefs and kings, they offered the stiffest and longest resistance to the European colonization of all three indigenous groups. However, they were also weakened by their own infighting, superstition, technological underdevelopment, and the colonial policy of divide and rule. Yet, unlike the Xhosa subgroup in the Eastern Cape (from which Nelson Mandela originates), the related Zulus in Natal were only subdued by the British colonial army in protracted battles as recently as 1900. The first democratic election in 1994 reversed this colonial conquest, by replacing 350 years of minority racial domination with majority political rule. In 2004, 76 percent of South African voters belonged to the African group, whereas 11 percent were classified as white.
The weakest San-speakers befell the worst fate of near-genocide. Like wild game, they were often shot on sight by special raiding parties who claimed they were habitual cattle thieves. In the early twenty-first century only about thirty thousand San people survive in the whole of Southern Africa, mainly in neighboring Botswana and Namibia, where they are still treated as second-class citizens in state parks or reservations. Were it not for the manufactured tourist attraction they provide or the tracking services they offered to the South African army during the war, most of these survivors from a different age would have vanished altogether.
The Cape settlers initially established an uneasy bartering relationship with the Khoikhoi; their rebellious chiefs were incarcerated at Robben Island, but most of the people gradually became absorbed into the feudal Cape economy as farm laborers or domestic servants. Missionaries converted the majority of Khoikhoi to Calvinism, and many Khoikhoi women intermarried with Europeans or had children out of wedlock or as a result of rape. Descendants of this group are known as coloreds in the contemporary world; the overwhelming majority speak Afrikaans as their mother tongue and make up approximately 9 percent of the total South African population of 44 million.
The ethnic mix of South Africa was further complicated by the importation of slaves from Angola, Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar, and elsewhere, a mere ten years after the Cape colony was founded. During the first hundred years the Cape colony barely grew through additional immigration from Europe, yet the outpost needed a dependent labor force. The huge gender imbalance among the Europeanshree men to one womanncouraged sexual liaisons across the groups. The leading South African historian Hermann Giliomee probably understates the sexual violence and exploitation in the colonial status hierarchy when he points out: "There was also large-scale miscegenation in the form of casual sex, especially in the slave lodge frequented by European men as well as sailors and soldiers" (2003, p. 18). Because most children born from such encounters were absorbed into the Afrikaner community, the racial consciousness and assertions of racial purity during the later apartheid period appear particularly absurd. Social science research across cultures has revealed that insistence on exclusive racial or ethnic identity is particularly strong among people who have an insecure self-concept and are not sure of their own identity. Sigmund Freud has called this phenomenon the narcicissm of small difference. Ironically, early Cape society seemed to be more color-blind and free of racially defined opportunities than the frozen twentieth-century legislated race classifications of apartheid.
Among the European colonial powers, South Africa became a desired possession and the Cape colony changed hands several times between the Dutch and British who feared the French under Napoleon. Unlike the earlier immigration by Dutch and German unemployed adventurers and a few hundred religiously prosecuted French Hugenots, large-scale immigration from Britain started only in the early nineteenth century. These were largely government-selected immigrants with crafts and skills who came with their families. Most settled on the Eastern seaboard, particularly in Natal. British control of the Cape and the abolition of slavery are usually mentioned as the reasons for the Great Trek of Afrikaner farmers beyond the Cape frontier into the interior in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Giliomee sees the diverse causes in "a lack of land, labor and security, coupled with a pervasive sense of being marginalized" (2003, p. 142). The trek left Afrikaners dispersed throughout the country. The Orange Free State and Transvaal emerged as the two new independent Boer republics.
The British influence and influx were also supplemented after 1860 by immigrants from British India on five-year contracts as indentured laborers for the sugar plantations and market gardens around Durban. Most of these poor labor migrants stayed in South Africa after the expiration of their contracts, brought their families over, and gradually prospered on the basis of solidarity with their kin and emphasis on education for their children, despite severe discrimination. This middle minority faced animosity from the dominant whites as well as the subordinate blacks. During the 1949 Durban riots 150 Indians were killed until the army restored order belatedly. Unlike the wealthy Indian trading minorities in East Africa, the Indian community in Natal consists mostly of working-class people. This did not prevent them from becoming a scapegoat and target of resentment for the Zulu population, who competed with them for jobs and scarce resources.
About 75 percent of the 1.3 million Indian population are Hindus from various Indian linguistic groups and 20 percent are Muslims. Together with the socalled Malay coloreds, 800,000 Muslims comprise approximately 2 percent of the South African population. The majority of the South African population profess to belong to various mainstream Christian denominations, whereas about 30 percent claim membership in independent (Zionist) churches.
Rise of Afrikaner Nationalism
The discovery of diamonds in Kimberley and rich gold reserves around Johannesburg in the second half of the nineteenth century again changed the course of South African history. It established the foundations for the only industrialized country in Africa. Deep level mining required long-term capital investments that only British imperialists were prepared to supply. Unlike colonies of exploitation where a few temporary colonists export their profits to the European metropole, the permanent settler colony of South Africa reinvested its profit inside the colony for further economic expansion. That presupposed political control over the territory which Cecil Rhodes and other British rubber barons needed to wrest from the Boer republics.
Imperialist greed was the simple reason for the Boer war at the turn of the century. The Boers outgunned in their guerrilla war against superior English forces enjoyed widespread global support, including that of Lenin, in what was considered the first anticolonial war of Africa. The Boers lost this war and about 10 percent of the Afrikaner population was killed. In the bitter struggle the ruthless British army practiced a scorched earth policy against the rural civilian population and established for the first time concentration camps in which many women and children died from starvation and disease.
The trauma of the conflict resulted in a quest for revenge and the emergence of Afrikaner nationalism. British colonial policy everywhere aimed at the anglicization of culturally different groups. The public use of the Afrikaans language was discouraged, outlawed in public, and penalized in schools. British cultural arrogance denigrated different cultural practices. Very much like the situation in Quebec until 1960, English-speakers dominated the economy and only English-speakers could hope for a substantial business career. This forced assimilation triggered a counternationalism that clamored for the equality of an impoverished people with their English overlords. The Afrikaner intellectual ethnic mobilizers stressed pride in the then fully developed Afrikaans language. They encouraged Afrikaners to accumulate capital in their own insurance companies. About 90 percent of Afrikaners in the 1920s and 1930s lived in rural areas; many drifted as landless, unskilled bywoners into the cities in search of work. They competed with African workers who were largely preferred by employers, because they were cheaper and considered less rebellious and more malleable. Approximately 25 percent of Afrikaners were classified as poor whites at the time.
The government at the time consisted of an English-Afrikaner United Party under the leadership of the highly reputed General Jan (Christiaan) Smuts. In 1940 it joined the war against Nazi Germany on the British side. A minority of nationalist Afrikaners strongly opposed this, mainly because of anti-British sentiments but also because of residual sympathies for German racist ideologies and anti-Semitic sentiments. The many alienated Afrikaners considered Jewish owners (Hoggenheimer) of the large Anglo-American gold and diamond corporation the local oppressors and exploiters.
Being that Afrikaners constituted 60 percent of the white voting population (as compared with 40% English-speakers) and only a few Cape nonwhites were enfranchised, the Afrikaner National Party not surprisingly won the 1948 general election. Capturing state control marked the triumph of Afrikaner nationalism. It now could use the state apparatus for patronage of Afrikaner interests and keeping black competitors at bay. The English United Party also practiced racist segregation, but less openly than Afrikaners. The National Party replaced segregation with apartheid, an unprecedented policy of statutory racial reordering. Its main architect was the new charismatic leader of the National Party, Hendrik Verwoerd.
In short, Afrikaner nationalism, with exclusive control of the South African state, institutionalized the Anglo informal segregation policy into formal, legalized apartheid. This grand experiment of race-based social engineering eschewed any assimilation and instead fostered ethnic difference among the black population. Separate development, as the ideology of divide and rule was euphemistically labeled, attempted to ethnisize the black majority and racialize the white minority of different cultural origins. It thereby tried to unify Europeans (particularly the Afrikaans and English-speakers of the white minority) into a white nation, but fragment Africans into nine tribal national groups. The imagined white nation was built on race and biology. The envisaged black nations were based on partially invented ethnic and cultural differences. The fate of the two middle groups (colored and Indians) was left undecided
Many Faces of Apartheid
The American sociologist Pierre van den Berghe has distinguished three forms of apartheid:
- Micro-apartheid, or petty apartheid, segregated people from birth to death in daily life. Whites and nonwhites had to use separate facilities, from hospitals to cemeteries, elevators to toilets, restaurants to park benches, buses to beaches, post-office counters to railway coaches. All facilities were of superior quality for whites and, if provided at all, of inferior quality for blacks, Indians, and coloreds.
- Meso-apartheid denotes the residential segregation enforced under the Group Areas Act. Cities that had once been integrated were forcibly segregated during the 1960s and nonwhites deported to outlying areas. In the contemporary world this is referred to as ethnic cleansing. The four racial groups were allocated different residential areas of their own. Whites could generally remain in the better parts of the city, while houses and shops were expropriated (particularly from Indians and coloreds) and the owners forced to relocate far from city centers. This eliminated competition for white traders and amounted to the confiscation of valuable real estate. The policy was justified under the banner of "slum clearing." However, once a slum was cleared, its residents or shop- or home-owners were not allowed back to rebuild.
- Macro-apartheid refers to the division of South Africa into nine tribal homelands on 13 percent of the land, while the rest was declared white territory. Blacks could live in white South Africa only with special permission, if they were needed as laborers. Slightly more than half of the total black population fell into this category. Some of the black homelands, which were also called Bantustans, declared themselves politically independent with their own flags and border controls, but their alleged sovereignty was recognized only by white South Africa. The government in Pretoria heavily subsidized its homeland creations, because they were the supposed answer to the anticolonial independence movements on the rest of the African continent.
Apartheid constituted domestic or internal colonialism. Generally corrupt and unpopular black appointees of the white government in the capital of Pretoria were designated to administer their own poverty and police themselves. The minority Afrikaner central government wanted to shed territory and responsibility for people considered useless, costly, and politically undesirable. Since all blacks would have acquired citizenship in their own independent states, there would be no need to grant them a vote in the white state. They would have been legally denationalized in the country of their birth. Only a few black Bantustan leaders, the Zulu chief Mangosutho Buthelezi being the most prominent, refused to go along with this charade. His Inkatha movement had broken away from the African National Congress (ANC) in 1979 and decided to oppose apartheid legally from within.
Economically, a small aristocracy of whites benefited from job reservation, differential salaries for work of the same variety, or preferential promotion in a system that officially referred to itself as a "civilized labor policy." Poor Afrikaner whites enjoyed the most successful affirmative action policy. They found jobs on the railways, in the post office, or with state corporations, whether they were qualified or not. Forty-five percent of economically active Afrikaners were employed in the civil service, in what comprised a unique nation of bureaucrats. Better qualified professionals were looked after by the secret Broederbond, an ethnic male employment agency which ensured that Afrikaners and not English competitors filled the most influential positions in the universities, media, or senior civil service. The 12.000 member elitist organization simultaneously functioned as a think tank and clearing-house for strategies of Afrikaner nationalism. Together with the founding of several new Afrikaner universities and the expansion of several older ones, such patronage activities ensured that Afrikaners gradually closed the wide educational and income gap with their English counterparts. Especially after Harry Oppenheimer's giant Anglo-American corporation allowed Afrikaner entry into the mining sector in the 1960s, the traditional ethnic divisions within the boardrooms of the nation faded. Beyond continuing ethnic particularities, Afrikaner and English capitalists shared basic common interests in defending their country against sanctions, perceived ANC communists abroad, and increasingly militant trade unions at home.
The majority of rural blacks were deprived of the right to seek work in urban areas through pass laws. These restrictions banned the elderly, women, and children to the desolate countryside, in order to save the system the social costs of education, unemployment, and old age. Eventually, all black South Africans were supposed to become foreigners in the country of their birth by acquiring citizenship in one of nine ethnic homelands. They would be "guest workers" without rights in 87 percent of the land, unable to own property or acquire a sense of a permanent home and belonging.
Colonialism everywhere operated on the distinction between citizens and subjects (Mamdani, 1997). Just as women in Europe were variously disenfranchised until the first half of the twentieth century, so indigenous subject populations (both in Africa and North America) were treated as so-called wards of the state, unworthy or incapable of participating in public affairs as equal citizens. A condescending paternalism confronted the allegedly childlike underlings when they demanded their rights: These had first to be earned, they were told, and their abilities demonstrated during a slow process toward equality. Colonial ideologues declared this the "burden of the white man" who had assumed the mission of "civilizing" primitive Natives in Africa.
Segregated education with different curricula and characterized by the differential allocation of resources was one of the main tools by which this policy was achieved. Bantu education was shaped by essentialized notions of what the black mind was capable of and the kind of corresponding lower skills needed in an industrialized economy. Depoliticized compliance, acquiescence, and acceptance of the status quo as the natural order were the expected attitudes. More open and progressive missionary schools were brought under state control. The few nonwhite students who attended the liberal white universities were channeled into new tribal colleges of students from the same ethnic group, all located in remote rural areas with the exception of the Coloured University of the Western Cape and the Indian University of Durban-Westville. Most faculty at these ethnic institutions were initially conservative Afrikaner civil servants. Little did the apartheid planners envisage that these colleges would gradually evolve into hotbeds of black nationalism and anti-apartheid resistance.
Ethnically based apartheid education, although imposed and resented, nevertheless built on entrenched traditions and linguistic backgrounds that are alive and relevant among the African rural population. Even in the cities, every black South African speaks an African language and more often is polyglot, although the medium of public discourse is almost exclusively English, despite eleven official languages. But English, poorly taught as a second language, severely disadvantages many African learners in the competition for good grades and jobs.
Even in the early twenty-first century those living in the rural areas under the authority of traditional chiefs are handicapped by customary law. Officially recognized as a concession to powerful traditional leaders, customary law does not sit well with liberal notions of equality and individual freedom. An unresolved contradiction exists between individualistic notions of citizenship and community-based rights and customs. The authority of chiefs does not rest on democratic legitimacy. Traditional leaders insist on inherited, dynastic rights. Women, in particular, suffer under communal obligations and status inequalities. Mamphela Ramphele speaks of a "dual citizenship that creates tensions between loyalty to the nation and to one's own group, however defined" (2000, p. 7). The tensions remain unresolved, and glaring discrepancies exist between the constitution and customary law. For example, the post-apartheid constitution insists on gender equality, but under customary law women cannot inherit property. Precolonial African society tends to be romanticized as communal decision making by consensus, but the monopoly of power in the hands of male elders and chiefs can hardly be called democratic.
Resistance and Liberation
European penetration of the African hinterland destroyed most of the traditional African subsistence economy. Squeezed into ever more overcrowded reserves, its inhabitants increasingly relied on the remittances of migrant workers in the cities. At the beginning of industrialization Africans had to be forced into poorly paid work on the mines through "head and hut" taxes that British administrators first introduced in the Eastern Cape. Later it was sheer rural poverty that drove blacks into the city slums, dormitories, and compounds. Migrant labor not only destroyed the African peasantry but also undermined the traditional family. The competition among ethnically housed migrants in insecure urban settings encouraged tribalism as a form of solidarity and the protection of one's own group in a tough struggle for survival.
In 1910 the ANC was founded. Among its first goals was the battle for African unity against tribalism. Under the influence of supportive white and Indian liberals and communists, this priority was later extended to color-blind nonracialism. A moderate black elite, educated at Christian missionary schools, repeatedly pleaded with the government for recognition. The much celebrated Freedom Charter of 1955 claimed the right of all South Africans to the land of their birth. A campaign of civil disobedience against new pass laws, inspired by the earlier campaigns led by Mahatma Gandhi, who lived as a British-trained lawyer in the Transvaal and experienced racial discrimination firsthand, was tried in Natal, but failed when the government simply imprisoned its peaceful protesters. The National Party government responded with ever more repressive legislation. The 1960 Sharpeville massacre of more than sixty protesters marked a turning point. The ANC and its rival, the more radical Pan African Congress (PAC), decided to go underground, revert to sabotage without hurting civilians, and establish an in-exile presence for the anti-apartheid struggle after both organizations were outlawed inside the country. After a few years in hiding Mandela and his comrades were caught and sentenced to life imprisonment, to be freed in 1990 only after serving twenty-seven years on Robben Island.
In 1983 the National Party split and shed its conservative wing. In 1989 its hard-line president, Pierre Willem Botha, was replaced with Frederik Wilhelm de Klerk, who had finally realized that apartheid did not work. Its costs outweighed its benefits. Attempts to control the influx of blacks into the cities had failed; businesses needed more skilled employees who were also politically satisfied; a powerful union movement had assumed the role of banned political organizations starting in the late 1970s; restless townships could not be stabilized, despite an essentially permanent state of emergency; demographic ratios had changed in favor of blacks, with more whites emigrating and draining the country of skills and investments; the costs of global sanctions, particularly loan refusals, and moral ostracism of the pariah South African state were felt. The collapse of communism and the end of the cold war in 1989 provided the final straw for the normalization of South Africa. The National Party decided to negotiate a historic compromise from a position of relative strength while whites were still dominant. With the loss of Eastern European support, the ANC also had to turn away from an armed struggle and seek a political solution. A perception of stalemate on both sides prepared the ground for a constitutionally mandated agreement to share power for five years. The first free democratic elections in 1994 and 1999 provided the ANC with a two-thirds majority.
Assessing the Post-Apartheid State and Future Trends
The compromise for whites involved handing over political power to the black majority, but in return leaving the economic order essentially intact. The ANC abandoned its socialist platform of "capturing the commanding heights of the economy" and turned into a right-of-center social democratic party with neoconservative fiscal and privatization policies that suited the powerful business community. A rapidly growing patriotic bourgeoisie has happily joined its white counterpart in defending nonracial capitalism (see Adam et al., 1997). Although the whitelack income gap has narrowed, the inequality within each racial group has widened. Black empowerment programs and affirmative action policies have mainly favored an already privileged elite, but barely addressed mass unemployment and poverty.
The ANC has to ask itself what happens when the euphoria of liberation wears off? Black frustration has turned inward: A spiraling crime rate, sexual violence, and escalating rates of HIV infection, due to inexplicable government stalling on available counterstrategies, affect the physical well-being of the post-apartheid generation even more than what their parents experienced under apartheid. Despite holding one-third of the seats in the South African parliament, African women are not yet empowered in the private sphere in a highly patriarchal system. Although the government has made significant progress in supplying new housing, electricity, water, health, and educational services to the needy, it has also wasted precious resources on unnecessary arms purchases. Several high-profile corruption scandals have raised eyebrows. Quiet ANC support for the tyrannical Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe has not reassured jittery minorities that their long-term interests are safe in South Africa.
The cherished South African constitutionalism has not yet been tested in a real crisis of good governance, although the democratic record of the post-apartheid government cannot be faulted. Trends toward authoritarianism and highly centralized decision making in the president's office undermine democratic grassroots participation. Authoritarianism originates not from overwhelming governance as in the former order, but on the contrary, from the widespread crisis of authority and the inability to enforce order. The country lacks the institutional capacity for effective governance in many realms. An admirable human rights culture but fledgling democracy, it faces its most severe challenge both from cynical withdrawal into the private realm and support for a strong hand to impose order and economic progress without debate. A fragile, colonized civil society in South Africa is no guarantee that democracy will prevail in a crisis when even black and white businesses might side with the stability and predictability that a more authoritarian order promises.
The celebrated Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has affirmed the past sufferings of victims and made some perpetrators confess, because of its unique reward of amnesty after full disclosure of past crimes. The commission has, however, only achieved symbolic reconciliation. The TRC is more admired abroad than within South Africa. By focusing only on perpetrators and a few thousand individual victims of gross human rights violations, the TRC ignored the millions of ordinary people who suffered under apartheid. It also let white beneficiaries off the hook. Claims for reparations are still being debated.
Was apartheid genocide, or a crime against humanity? If one defines genocide as the planned and premeditated physical elimination of a people on the basis of their group membership, apartheid did not constitute genocide. Whites depended on blacks for cheap labor. However, depriving a people of fundamental human rights on the basis of their race and origin, stifling and wasting untold talents through arbitrary restrictions of advancement and differential resource allocation, or systematically insulting the dignity and equal recognition of citizens because of their descent, certainly constitutes a crime against humanity. That atrocities also occurred in countries who were among the harshest critics of apartheid South Africa should not be used to excuse the crimes of apartheid. While the perpetrators should not be labeled the Nazis of Africa, their different motivations and actions do not exonerate them. Although guilt cannot be collectively ascribed and there were also many brave dissidents and human rights activists among the dominant group, the white community bears responsibility for the continuing legacy of crimes committed in its name. All South African whites benefited, willingly or unwillingly, from a horrendous legalized racial system whether they supported it or not. Many victims of apartheid continue to bear visible and invisible scars. That those historical legacies must be acknowledged by all sides and serious efforts made to redress such wounds should be self-evident for all politically literate South Africans.
SEE ALSO Apartheid; Goldstone, Richard; Identification; Mandela, Nelson; Nationalism; Racism; Reparations; Shaka Zulu; Truth Commissions; Zulu Empire
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