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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Key Policy Challenges Facing South Africa

By: Lindokuhle Mnisi


The Republic of South Africa is a country that has a very unfortunate history, a history of colonialism, oppression and discrimination against one another. This history dates back to almost 400 years ago when the country experienced colonialism from the white people who came from all over the world, to take over everything that belonged to the indigenous people of this land. Wars erupted, and the unfortunate apartheid regime also commenced in the country with those white people claiming ownership of this land, and black people having to defend what they thought belonged to them.

Policies were created to defend and suite certain groups of people, while other policies were made to oppress a certain class of people. The Land act of 1913 can be an example of those policies that were created by the apartheid government. This act’s main aim was to separate people according to their race, with black people being given at least 7% of land in their own country and pushed away to homelands, while white people occupied the bigger piece of the country. The Act created a system of land tenure that deprived the majority of South Africa's inhabitants of the right to own land which had major socio-economic repercussions.

There were other policies that were created in the past which includes education, crime, economic and housing policies. But when apartheid was defeated in the 1990s, many of those policies were reviewed and some were redrafted to address the issues of balance and equality in the country. With the legacy of apartheid, some of those policies didn’t manage to address the key challenges of South Africa. Those policies are, at some point, the challenges in the country as they try to solve problems while being a problem themselves.

Groups of individuals merged to form solid forces to defeat apartheid, but when they had to defeat the legacy of the system they decided to separate and fight one another. The “winning team” went from being a liberation fighter to a political party. The African National Congress, as a governing party since 1994, drafted a number of policies that aimed at suiting the majority inhabitant of the republic and addressing the imbalances of the past (affirmative action). But it turned out that those policies were a fair to a certain extent, fair to certain individuals and unfair to the others.

 Land (Reform) Policy
There are policies and approaches like “willing buyer, willing seller” which was aiming at redistributing land to the inhabitants of South Africa, but didn’t really work to address the challenges of land in the country. The majority of land belonged to the minority (whites) and historical facts prove that the land was forcefully taken away from the majority (blacks). The government and the leading political party also agreed that this approach didn’t work and was not going to work and the minority continued to own bigger pieces of land. The ANCYL under the leadership of the expelled leader Julius Malema pushed for “redistribution of land without compensation” and received the highest level of criticism for those utterances. Some said he was being racist, but all those who said that, didn’t really have a better solution to the issue of redistribution of land.

Solutions to Land Reform policy would be to know the reason for redistribution, not to do it to spite the white people who used to own it, but to render services to the people and help in the development of the economy.

In the ANC’s Land Reform Policy Discussion Document of June 2012, they said Land Reform is not just another social transfer where benefiting citizens receive government largesse. It is and should be seen as autonomy-fostering service delivery. This view of land reform projects service delivery as a key site at which the assumptions and stigmas associated with vulnerability in our society may be challenged and the appropriate resources for developing the capacity for autonomy provided. Service delivery via land reform should play an important role in clearing the way for disadvantaged previously marginalized individuals to exercise their capacity to act autonomously, to be full economic and social participants in the South African Project. - (, Policy Documents)

Housing Policy & strategy
Housing the Nation is one of the greatest challenges facing the Government of National Unity. The extent of the challenge derives not only from the enormous size of the  housing backlog and the desperation and impatience of the homeless, but stems also from the extremely complicated bureaucratic, administrative, financial and institutional framework inherited from the previous government (Housing policy document; 1994). The problem of housing has remained an ongoing thing that keeps on affecting our people every now and then. So the government has come up with programmes like the RDP to try and distribute houses to the people who needs and deserve them. But people tend to create problems by moving from one place to another to start informal settlements and come back to complain to the government saying it is ignoring them. Truth is, if people keep on moving to other places, the government will have to make new budgets for those people.

Economic policy
The economic policy is also one of the policies that South Africans are aware of in this country. This policy seeks to address economic challenges of the people and the country at large. This policy is also there to ensure that there is balance between all races in the country and people are treated the same. But this policy has faced problems for a number of years as it has shown to be benefiting those who were on the advantage in the past, whites. White people have continued to get richer and black people were becoming poorer. Then there were programmes like “Black Economic Empowerment” (BEE), a programme launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving previously disadvantaged groups (black Africans, Coloureds, Indians and some Chinese) of South African citizen’s economic privileges previously not available to them. It includes measures such as Employment Preference, skills development, ownership, management, socioeconomic development, and preferential procurement.

"It is an integrated and coherent political process. It is located within the context of the country's nation transformation programme, namely the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme). It is aimed at change the imbalances of the past by seeking to substantially transfer and confer ownership, management and control of South Africa's financial and economic resources to the majority of the citizens. It seeks to ensure broader and meaningful participation in the economy by black people to achieve sustainable development and prosperity." (BEE Commission Report, pg. 2)

Mineral Policy (Mining)
South Africa’s mining industry is supported by an extensive and diversified resource base, and has since its inception been a cornerstone of South Africa’s economy. Undoubtedly some of the older mines are reaching the end of their lives, leading to job losses and the other attendant negative effects of downscaling, but these problems are being tackled energetically within the sector, through restructuring of mining groups, technological advances and innovative methods of improving productivity. Apart from gold mining, there are many other minerals being produced, for some of which South Africa is the leading producer and holder of reserves. But it is also known that wages within these mine sectors are problematic. There have been a number of protests related to wages all over the country. Many have complained that the problem is that these mines are owned by foreign people. So as a result, the ANCYL have been pushing for nationalization of mines in the country. The government rejected that suggestion in last year June’s ANC policy congress.

NB: This piece was written as an assignment for Politics 3.