South Africa is a presidential republic with Thabo Mbeki as president since1999. The government is situated in Pretoria and the parliament is located in Cape Town.
Political structure (1)
Parliament consists of two Chambers, the national assembly and the senate. The national assembly has 400 members; the national representation on national level is proportional to the regional representation. The senate consists of 90 members: ten of each province. The executive power is in hands of the president and the ministry.
The national assembly chooses the president, and every party with at least 20% of the votes (80 seats) is allowed to present a vice-president. The president deliberates with the party-leaders about the ministers
The political parties (2)
The fall of apartheid has had a big influence on South Africa. The African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912 and used peaceful protest during the fifties. Later the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) separated from the ANC. But demonstrations of both parties ended up as bloodbaths and the authorities arrested black group leaders, so ANC and PAC had to go underground. During the sixties it was quite calm and the Boer party, Nasionale Party (NP), won the elections with remarkable results, but in the beginning of the seventies the resistance increased again. During these years new black people organisations were founded. Among those organisations were the Black People Convention from Steven Biko (who got killed in 1977 in the year when his organisation was forbidden) AZAPO (Azanian People Organisation: A socialist movement with black consciousness) and the Inkatha-movement (the Black Nationalist movement from the leader of the Kwazulu homeland: Gatsha Buthelezi). The last two movements plead for the emancipation of blacks in the official structures. These movements led to increasing black awareness and led to the riots at Soweto where black students protested against the introduction of Afrikaans at school.
In 1983 the UDF (United Democratic Front) was founded against apartheid.
In 1990 Frederick Willem De Klerk legalised political parties. This was a first step to democracy and a re-allocation of the South African political landscape.
In 1991 De Klerk, Mandela, Buthelezi and 23 other party leaders signed an agreement for peace. The NP of Mr De Klerk was no longer a Boer party but became a liberal party.
Towards the elections of 1994 the situation becomes tense in the Natal province when an ethnic stride starts between the ANC supporters (Xhosa) and Inkatha supporters (Zulu). Because of this turning point in the NP, extreme right-winged whites started their own movement, the Afrikaner Weerstand Beweging (AWB), against the reforms.
In 1993 the ANC made a compromise with the NP that they will gradually settle with the white regime. This was against the will of the conservative whites and the radical black movements. So the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP before Inkatha Movement) of Buthelezi and the Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF before AWB) formed the Freedom Alliance. But ANC won the elections with 62%.
South Africa also has Stalinist party (SACP) but they form a tripartite with AZAPO in the ANC. Before the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) was also active in the ANC until 1996 when the big savings-plans in the budget started.
Since The fall of apartheid not much has changed because during apartheid the problems were huge. Because of the aids problematic the country hasn't been able to progress a lot. Aids is a permanent actual problem because South Africa has one of the highest HIV-infection percentage, which is a result of the lack of precaution taken by the government in the nineties. Before the AIDS problematic health care was on a relative high level in South Africa.
The land division is a problem that has been on the program of the ANC for years but never got solved yet, but it does not appear on the media very often.
In the past year there have been protest from the students against the saving-plans of Ina Cronje (ANC). The students came on the streets in Durban because they didn't get their scholarships because of "lack of funds". Hundreds of students had to sign out of their university because of this lack. (3)
Recently there has been a lot of protest against plans to privatise with mass mobilisations. (4)
A couple of years ago there were discussions about the bad circumstances in which illegal immigrants were repatriated because sometimes these immigrants died on the train on the way to their land. (5)
South Africa has also has a lot of debts, in 1996 they had a total international dept of $23.6 billion and between 1985 and 1995 they had an inflation of 12.7%. (6)
(1) Spectrum Encyclopedie 2002: Zuid-Afrika 3. Samenleving
(2) Spectrum Encyclopedie 2002: Zuid-Afrika 3. Samenleving; Zuid-Afrika 4. Geschiedenis; www.anc.org.za
(3) Verzetskrant: nr8 winter 2004-2005; www.internationaalverzet.be
(4) www.lsp-mas.be; www.solidair.be
(5) SABC news
(6) Spectrum encyclopedie 2002: Zuid-Afrika 5. economie