Democracy In South Africa Essay

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After a long difficult struggle South Africans welcomed freedom and democracy on April 27, 1994 ("20 years of freedom”). Democracy research groups Freedom House and Polity both label South Africa as democratic ("Freedom in the World” and Cole and Marshall). South Africa has a population of 51.7 million; of these 79.2% are black, 8.9% are white, 8.9% are coloured, and 2.5% are Indian/Asian ("South Africa: fast"). Before the democratic change, the minority white group oppressed the majority black group; making whites’ have an economic advantage ("The Consent”). The constitution recognizes eleven languages at equal value; the languages vary from English to isiZulu ("South Africa: fast"). Freedom of religion is also protected by the constitution because of the variety of religions that are practiced ("African Traditional”). Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and traditional African religions are all widely practiced religions ("African Traditional”). The constitution also equally represents everyone no matter their sex, race, or sexual preference ("Freedom in the World”). However, the peaceful constitution originated only after years of protest in the fight for equality.
The ruling government of South Africa changed from French-backed Dutch control to the British in 1795 ("The Consent”). Once the British controlled the Cape Colony, slavery was introduced and the white Dutch population was considered superior ("The Consent”). After several wars between the white Dutch population and Britain, the British gained complete control of the government in South Africa ("The Consent”). The British government still considered blacks second class citizens without the right to vote ("The Consent”). In the 1948 elections The National...

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...l). Through laws the government has made progress increasing the size of the middle class population; however, there is still a need for improvement.
When a country has an extremely low per capita income, tiny middle class, and lack of skill the transition to democracy is rare according to Snyder (72). The transition occurred in South Africa because the people were desperate for change. The economic struggle is still apparent in South Africa with a lack of education, thousands of unfilled jobs, and small middle class (The Economist). According to the South Africa’s Gini coefficient, a scale measuring inequality, South Africa is rated one of the most economically unequal countries in the world (The Economist). With economic and educational disparities, South Africa is a frail democracy that is being closely watched and assisted by pro-democracy organizations.
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