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South Africa celebrates 23rd birthday — Freedom Day


SOUTH AFRICA today celebrates 23 years of Independence. Twenty-two million South Africans cast their votes in the national elections on 27 April 1994, marking the dawn of democracy.

27 April commemorates the day in 1994 when the first democratic election was held in South Africa. Freedom Day marks the liberation of SA from the apartheid regime.

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain tops of our desires.”

These are famous words by the infamous late former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela who spoke on the country’s freedom in 1953.

The ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and other organisations were unbanned on 2 February 1990, and a non-racial constitution was eventually agreed upon and adopted in 1993.

On 27 April 1994, the nation finally cast its vote in the first democratic election in the country gaining international attention.

The ANC was then voted into power, and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the President of South Africa on 10 May.

This year Freedom Day is celebrated under the theme; “The year of OR Tambo: Together deepening democracy and building safer and crime-free communities.”  

President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the main Freedom Day celebrations in Manguzi, northern Kwa-Zulu Natal Thursday morning.

South African Economy

However, 15 years into our democracy, many of these issues are still rife in our country, facing new challenges such as growing inequality among South Africans and political and economic instability in the region.

The role of “white monopoly capital” in post-apartheid South Africa has been in the news lately. In the South African context, it can be understood as the white population’s extensive control over the country’s economy.

The debate reflects a recanting view against the rainbow nation dream sold when the country gained political freedom 22 years ago. The idea is that white monopoly capital is the source of the problem of multiple failures of the South African political economy.

The response has been a rising chorus of white monopoly capitalism deniers who argue that the governing African National Congress (ANC) is using the concept as a shield against criticism. Instead of addressing its failings such as a faltering economy, widening inequality, unemployment, corruption and incompetence, the argument goes, the ANC is deflecting attention for the country’s difficulties by blaming white monopoly capital.

Some in this camp add that South Africa has recorded significant progress in redistributing the country’s wealth, mainly via the allocation of equity in formerly white companies to black economic empowerment groups. They quote figures that they say reflects rising levels of black ownership on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

But by relying on a single indicator, they ignore other key pointers which are critical to understanding the stranglehold that white capital has over the South African economy. The exclusive focus on the JSE ignores the fact that the stock market is just one of many forms of capital. Others include land – probably one of the most contentious of all forms of capital in South Africa’s history – home ownership and human capital, in the forms of knowledge, skills and education.

SA may still be on track for more than 1% growth in 2017, with data from February suggesting the economy is growing.

The Reserve Bank’s composite leading business cycle indicator was up 1.1% on a month-to-month basis in February. The indicator is a strong projection of SA’s economic growth cycle for the next six to 12 months.