History and Modern South Africa

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South African history dates back to years and years ago and till this day history is still being made. The prehistory and history of South Africa dates back to nearly the entire known existence of mankind and their ancestors. Just a little over three million years or so we can find in textbooks the beginning of South Africa that includes the wandering of small bands of hominins through the savanna, the inception of herding and farming as ways of life, and the construction of large urban centres.

According to an online source, it is said to be that “ Through this diversity of human experience, several trends can be identified, such as: technological and economic change, shifting systems of belief, and, in the earlier phases of humanity, the interplay between physical evolution and learned behavior, or culture”(Wikimedia Foundation,2018). Over much of this time frame, South Africa’s past is also that of a far wider area, and only in the last few centuries has this southernmost country of Africa had a history of its own.

In the making of Modern South Africa, many things had to be done in order to achieve the unthinkable. The South African president Jacob Zuma was appointed deputy president in 1999. His appointment to the presidency seat followed a huge conflict within his own party in which majority of the delegates at a conference of the ruling of the African National Congress (ANC) voted against the re-election of the incumbent president, Thabo Mbeki, a set-back that led to his resignation from public office. At this conference many supports came from two different grouping within the African National Congress. These groups came together and influenced amd challenged the authority of the parties in support of Mbeki. At this time, Zuma appeared to be a hero and champion(Kesselman, 2013. p. 244-245).

In today’s politics the Republic of South Africa is currently a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The South African President serves as both, head of state and also head of government. The President is also elected by the National Assembly which is the lower house of the South African Parliament, and then he must retain the confidence of the Assembly in order to remain in office. South Africans also elect provincial legislatures which govern each of the country’s provinces. There are nine provinces. After the apartheid was over in 1994, the African National Congress really took over many of the politics in South Africa. The ANC is the ruling party in the national legislature, as well as in eight of the nine provinces, with Western Cape being governed by the Democratic Alliance.

The ANC received majority of the vote during the 2014 general election in South Africa. It had also received majority of the popular vote previously in the 2011 municipal election. The main challenger to the African National Congress rule is the Democratic Alliance. According to an article reports say that “The Democratic Alliance is led by Mmusi Maimane which received around 22.23% of the vote in the 2014 election” (Mabin. 2018).

The other major political parties represented in African Parliament include the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Inkatha Freedom Party, which mainly represents the Zulu voters. The formerly dominant New National Party, which both introduced and ended apartheid through its predecessor the National Party. It disbanded in 2005 and then merged with the ANC. Jacob Zuma served as President of South Africa since 2009 until his resignation in early 2018. Zuma was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa , who is the new president to date in 2018.

In South Africa they have something called government clusters . Government clusters are different groups that help to foster an integrated approach to governance that is aimed at improving different assets of the country such as government planning, decision-making along with service delivery. The main objective of these different groups is to ensure that the proper coordination of all government programs at national and provincial levels are run correctly.

The Geographic setting of South Africa can be compared to many different states in the United States of America. According to the textbook, “South Africa is about twice the size of Texas” (Kesselman. 2013. p.247). The population of South Africa is roughly around 56 million people now in the year 2018. Out of those 56 million people, most of these South Africans classify themselves as Black African, White, Colored, with a small percentage being Indian and Asian. Most of the people living in South Africa live in small towns and cities.

Most of these towns are in very rural areas and have little to no resources to live a normal daily life like how most Americans live in the US. While there are some suburbs in South Africa, you will find there that is where you will find most whites and rich Africans living that have the resources to live a normal lifestyle. In these rural parts of South Africa they do not have the simply life necessities such as clean water, heat, and electric. Without these basic necessities it is very hard to live the normal life like some people.

Outside from speaking English the country also has 10 different languages such as Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, Swati, Tshivenda, and Ndebele. ( World population review. 2018) Some of the religious views vary in the country and according to an Article on World population view it states that 81.2% of South Africans identify with a Christian based faith, 3.7% identify with other faiths, and 15% are not affiliated with any faith in particular.

Alongside from just the everyday politics of South Africa there are numerous current events that need to be brought to our attention that are not publicized like they should be here in the United States. One article I found on New York Times explains how in South Africa members of the ANC have been putting out hits for other members of the ANC to have them killed. Most of the killings were followed out after some member had spoken out against others and corruption in the party that defined their lives. Other reasons for these killings of the members were because of the fight between power, turf, and not surprisingly money.

In the article it says “Political assassinations are rising sharply in South Africa, threatening the stability of hard-hit parts of the country and imperiling Mr. Mandela’s dream of a unified, democratic nation” (Onishi. 2018). The corruption that comes from within the ANC is surprisingly not even over opposing political parties, most of this comes from the want of having the most power and highest positions in the ANC. The article also states that “ The death toll is climbing quickly. About 90 politicians have been killed since the start of 2016, more than twice the annual rate in the 16 years before that, according to researchers at the University of Cape Town and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime” ( Onishi. 2018).

With numbers like this it is obvious that it is pretty common for these killings to be occurring as often as they do. To the people in South Africa turning on the news and seeing this news story shouldn’t be surprising as to citizens in the US would see something like this and compare it to a school shooting or even Trump doing yet another corrupt thing in the White House. Although many of us know that the continent of Africa itself is somewhat corrupt, It is very sad to see that the politics in South Africa conclude to the murders of their own house members of the African National Congress.

In my opinion, I feel as though no situation no matter how big or small should result to killing a member of Congress. If the dispute was serious that is one thing, but hiring a hitman and then proceeding to pay them is just downright ridiculous. I could never come to sense to even begin to think about something like that, the solution I would have tried was to come together with other house members to try and come to a consensus and resolve the issues at hand.

Another current event that I researched from the New York Times explains how students going to schools everyday to get their education are not returning home at the end of the day because they are dying. How are they dying you ask? They are dying in the pits that they use as toilets. Due to the lack of resources because Africa is such a poor country most places do not have regular bathrooms like us Americans have and have to use either outboxes or pits. These pits are the only options for children and adults in these schools to relieve themselves when having to use the bathroom.

There have been plans to make safer and more efficient bathrooms for these schools after these recent incidents. In the article a statement was made by President Cyril Ramaphosa and it was stated that “The initiative, known as Sanitation Appropriate for Education, would “spare generations of young South Africans the indignity, discomfort and danger of using pit latrines and other unsafe facilities in our schools” ( Greef. 2018). This initiative comes in time following the deaths of these poor students who are forced to live in these unsafe conditions they are surrounded with everyday. There are nearly 4,000 schools that do not have the modern toilets and they use pit toilets also.

This problem is now falling under the ANC, because they are the ones responsible for allocating the money to install the new toilets. Since the year 1994, the government has installed around 20,000 flush toilets in South Africa. This is nowhere close to the number of schools that are being skipped out on and the ANC admits that they have not been working fast enough to fulfill this task. According to a news source called Passmark it is said that “it would take around 19 years to replace all the pit toilets in South Africa’s schools” (Greef. 2018) While knowing it would take some time to get all the schools fully equipped with flush toilets you still have to think about the amount of times that something wrong could happen.

In my opinion, I feel as though this issue should have been resolved a long time ago. Yes, South Africa is a poor country and does not have the basic necessities that it needs, but when children go to school they are supposed to feel safe. Who knew that simply going to the bathroom could end your life and you would drown in a toilet. While government officials are working towards fixing this issue, I feel as though they are not taking it as serious as it needs to be. These students are risking their lives everyday just by simply going trying to relieve themselves which you should be able to do comfortably.

Many people know that South Africa is a corrupt country, and the President Cyril Ramaphosa is working to bring out the people who are making it corrupt, including his predecessor Jacob Zuma. A BBC news article states “Mr Zuma was charged last April with fraud and racketeering linked to a 1999 arms deal. Much of his nine-year tenure as president was dogged by corruption allegations, while the country struggled with ballooning national debt and high levels of unemployment” (BBC. 2018). Along with Jacob Zuma and many other officials of the ANC there has been a large amount of money taken and the South Africans are tired of it and want everybody to be tried and sent to prison.

With South Africa already being a poor country these elected officials stealing from them is not doing the country any better. In the article the President also states that “An official inquiry is being held to investigate the claims of what is known in South Africa as ‘state capture’, and Mr Ramaphosa confirmed he would appear before it. ‘I will give an account to the commission about what I knew and what I didn’t know,’ he said” (BBC.2018). This statement gives the citizens of South Africa some hope that they know a possible end to the corruption they have been facing for so long could be over in the near future. In my opinion I feel as though every country in some way shape or form has a little bit of corruption.

The way you handle it is up to the government and how they condone themselves. South Africa has so many problems that they chose to let people know about the hardships they face and the struggles they go through. Here in America you will only truly find out on CNN about the misdoings and corrupt mindset of our President Donald Trump, while yes a political scandal might come out here and there, but in South Africa they are not scared to share what is going on in their government.

In closing, South Africa is a very beautiful country and I wish to visit it one day. While yes they have some issues to work on, what country does not. The people of South Africa do not let there government, living conditions, money or anything of that nature stop them from living their best life despite what may be going on. Surrounding countries continuously help South Africa in its day to day struggles to become a better country no matter the circumstance. Hopefully in the near future things will get better for the country and they will be supplied with all the resources they need to thrive and be the best it can be.

Cite this paper

History and Modern South Africa. (2021, Jul 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/history-and-modern-south-africa/

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