May 6, 2013
South Africa, a country on the southern tip of Africa, has an area of 471,442sq mi and a population of 44,188,000. It is predominately a black ethnicity with 76% of the population. Although South Africa is Africa's most developed country, most of the black people - rural and urban - are poor, with low standards of living. South Africa has vital natural resources such as diamonds and gold and is rich in other resources such as coal, chromite, copper, iron ore, manga- nese, platinum, phosphate rock, silver, uranium and vanadium (South Africa, 2008). It is obvious that South Africa can sustain their economy through these resources. Through the centuries South Africa has faced difficult time since the Dutch came in 1600’s, in 1700 they started importing slaves establishing the dominance of white over non- whites in the region. The non-whites faced discrimination for years under apartheid and political corruption ran by the whites. Today things look better for the people of South Africa, but they still have many obstacles to overcome. Although South Africa has overcome many travesties throughout the years, their reasonably new democracy faces more with complex political parties, recent struggles with homelessness, and what is being done about this situation.
Firstly, apartheid is an “Afrikaans word literally meaning apartness,” refers to the policy of racial segregation and its concomitant economic and political discrimination that was adopted by the South African government for a half century. Coined in the late 1930s by the South African Bureau for Racial Affairs (SABRA), apartheid reflected the social, yet non-legal, practices of South Africans. In the 1940s, the Afrikaner National Party used it as their political slogan. When they won the election in 1948, apartheid was written into law” (Apartheid, 2001). It was a bitter century for the South Africans especially the non-whites. Even though over 70% of the population was black they were limited to very little land, equal opportunity rights, and discriminated against in every way possible. In the 1960’s, an uprising began among the black people against the law of apartheid exhibiting courage through demonstration, protest, and strikes. Many ended in massacre of the people and plenty went to jail for their fight against apartheid. During the 1980’s their struggle was beginning to pay off and laws were being made, But it wasn’t until 1990 that apartheid was actually abolished and some prisoners were released (Apartheid, 2001). It had been a long, bloody fight for the people of South Africa, but the outlook was looking promising when Nelson Mandela became the first black president South Africa had ever seen.
In 2009 South Africans voted in the fourth general election of the countries democratic era. The same political party that Nelson Mandela was in the African National Congress (ANC) was returned to power regardless of a new political party called the Congress of the People (COPE) and the returning party of the Democratic Alliance (DA) (Vincent, 2007). South Africa, after becoming a democratic country followed the lead of America and other countries by placing a written law, the constitution. A constitution, after all, is a non-majoritarian mechanism that places out of the reach of majorities certain fundamental rights. Constitutional democracy places emphasis on the need for checks and balances in the democratic system for counterweights to power, even the power of the people (Vincent, 2007). However South African’s constitution is highly diverse compared to the United States Constitution and has implemented far reaching equality rights, such as, homosexual rights, women’s rights, and the death penalty that has caused a stir in the South African democracy. “The constitution, in other words, places out of the reach of majority preference rights that are often not popular and...
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