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South Africa


Official Name: Republic of South Africa
Capital: Pretoria
Official Language: isiZulu, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sesotho sa Leboa, English,
Setwana, isiNdebele, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Sesotho 
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
Head of State
                & Government:
President H.E. Jacob Zuma
Foreign Minister: H.E. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Government Website:
Date of joining: 07 March 1997




South Africa at a glance

Size: 1 219 090 km2

Key economic sectors

Mining and transport, energy, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture


Total: 50 586 757

Male: 24 515 036

Female: 26 071 721

0 - 14 years: 15 812 268
15 - 34 years: 18 714 750

Households: 13,8 million

Household size: Average 3,6 persons

Official languages

  • English
  • isiZulu
  • isiXhosa
  • isiNdebele
  • Afrikaans
  • siSwati
  • Sesotho sa Leboa
  • Sesotho
  • Setswana
  • Tshivenda
  • Xitsonga


  • Pretoria (administrative)
  • Cape Town (legislative)
  • Bloemfontein (judicial)

The Constitutional Court is located in Johannesburg.


Currency: Rand (ZAR). 100 cents equals one rand

Time: GMT +2 hours


  • Cape Town to Johannesburg 1 400 km (880 miles)
  • Johannesburg to Durban 600 km (380 miles)
  • Port Elizabeth to Bloemfontein 700 km (440 miles)

Value-added tax

Levied at 14%. Tourists may apply for tax refunds on purchases over R250 on departure.


Top-quality healthcare is available throughout the country, although asic in rural areas.

Inoculations are only required for those travelling from yellow-fever areas. Malaria precautions are necessary in some areas.

Sources:Pocket Guide to South Africa 2010/2011 
Editor: D Burger. Government Communication and Information System

Mid-year population estimates, 2011 
Statistics South Africa



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The early inhabitants

The discovery of the skull of a Taung child in 1924; discoveries of hominid fossils at Sterkfontein caves, a world heritage site; and the ground-breaking work done at Blombos Cave in the southern Cape, have all put South Africa at the forefront of palaeontological research into the origins of humanity. Modern humans have lived in the region for over 100 000 years.

The latest discovery is a new species of hominid, Australopithecus sediba, almost two million years old. It was discovered in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, 40 kilometres from Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010.

The small, mobile bands of Stone-Age hunter- gatherers, who created a wealth of rock art, were the ancestors of the Khoikhoi and San of historical times. The Khoikhoin and San (the "Hottentots" and "Bushmen" of early European terminology), although collectively known as the Khoisan, are often thought of as distinct peoples.

The former were those who, some 2 000 years ago, adopted a pastoralist lifestyle herding sheep and, later, cattle. Whereas the hunter-gatherers adapted to local environments and were scattered across the subcontinent, the herders sought out the pasturelands between modern-day Namibia and the Eastern Cape, which, generally, are near the coast. At around the same time, Bantu-speaking agropastoralists began arriving in southern Africa, bringing with them an iron-age culture and domesticated crops. After establishing themselves in the well-watered eastern coastal region of southern Africa, these farmers spread out across the interior plateau, or "highveld", where they adopted a more extensive cattle-farming culture.

Chiefdoms arose, based on control over cattle, which gave rise to systems of patronage and hence hierarchies of authority within communities.

Metallurgical skills, developed in the mining and processing of iron, copper, tin and gold, promoted regional trade and craft specialisation.

At several archaeological sites, such as Mapungubwe and Thulamela in the Limpopo Valley, there is evidence of sophisticated political and material cultures, based in part on contact with the East African trading economy. These cultures, which were part of a broader African civilisation, predate European encroachment by several centuries. Settlement patterns varied from the dispersed homesteads of the fertile coastal regions in the east, to the concentrated towns of the desert fringes in the west.

The farmers did not, however, extend their settlement into the western desert or the winter-rainfall region in the south-west. These regions remained the preserve of the Khoisan until Europeans put down roots at the Cape of Good Hope.

Currently, aided by modern science in uncovering the continent's past, which forms part of the African Renaissance, South Africa is gaining a greater understanding of its rich precolonial past.

The early colonial period

Portuguese seafarers, who pioneered the sea route to India in the late 15th century, were regular visitors to the South African coast during the early 1500s. Other Europeans followed from the late 16th century.

In 1652, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) set up a station in Table Bay (Cape Town) to provision passing ships. Trade with the Khoekhoe(n) for slaughter stock soon degenerated into raiding and warfare. Beginning in 1657, European settlers were allotted farms by the colonial authorities in the arable regions around Cape Town, where wine and wheat became the major products. In response to the colonists' demand for labour, the VOC imported slaves from East Africa, Madagascar, and its possessions from the East Indies.

By the early 1700s, the colonists had begun to spread into the hinterland beyond the nearest mountain ranges. These relatively independent and mobile farmers (trekboers), who lived as pastoralists and hunters, were largely free from supervision by the Dutch authorities.

As they intruded further upon the land and water sources, and stepped up their demands for livestock and labour, more and more of the indigenous inhabitants were dispossessed and incorporated into the colonial economy as servants.

Diseases such as smallpox, which was introduced by the Europeans in 1713, decimated the Khoisan, contributing to the decline of their cultures. Unions across the colour line took place and a new multiracial social order evolved, based on the supremacy of European colonists. The slave population steadily increased since more labour was needed. By the mid-1700s, there were more slaves in the Cape than there were "free burghers" (European colonists). The Asian slaves were concentrated in the towns, where they formed an artisan class. They brought with them the Islamic religion, which gained adherents and significantly shaped the working-class culture of the Western Cape. Slaves of African descent were found more often on the farms of outlying districts.

In the late 1700s, the Khoisan offered far more determined resistance to colonial encroachment across the length of the colonial frontier. From the 1770s, colonists also came into contact and conflict with Bantu-speaking chiefdoms. A century of intermittent warfare ensued during which the colonists gained ascendancy, first over the Khoisan and then over the Xhosa-speaking chiefdoms to the east.

It was only in the late 1800s that the subjugation of these settled African societies became feasible. For some time, their relatively sophisticated social structure and economic systems fended off decisive disruption by incoming colonists, who lacked the necessary military superiority.

At the same time, a process of cultural change was set in motion, not least by commercial and missionary activity. In contrast to the Khoisan, the black farmers were, by and large, immune to European diseases. For this and other reasons, they were to greatly outnumber the whites in the population of white-ruled South Africa, and were able to preserve important features of their culture.

Perhaps because of population pressures, combined with the actions of slave traders in Portuguese territory on the east coast, the Zulu kingdom emerged as a highly centralised state. In the 1820s, the innovative leader Shaka established sway over a considerable area of south-east Africa and brought many chiefdoms under his dominion.

As splinter groups conquered and absorbed communities in their path, the disruption was felt as far north as central Africa. Substantial states, such as Moshoeshoe's Lesotho and other Sotho-Tswana chiefdoms, were established, partly for reasons of defence. The Mfecane or Difaqane, as this period of disruption and state formation became known, remains the subject of much speculative debate.

The British colonial era

In 1795, the British occupied the Cape as a strategic base against the French, controlling the sea route to the East.

After a brief reversion to the Dutch in the course of the Napoleonic wars, it was retaken in 1806 and kept by Britain in the post-war settlement of territorial claims. The closed and regulated economic system of the Dutch period was swept away as the Cape Colony was integrated into the dynamic international trading empire of industrialising Britain.

A crucial new element was evangelicalism, brought to the Cape by Protestant missionaries. The evangelicals believed in the liberating effect of "free" labour and in the "civilising mission" of British imperialism. They were convinced that indigenous peoples could be fully assimilated into European Christian culture once the shackles of oppression had been removed.

The most important representative of the mission movement in South Africa was Dr John Philip, who arrived as superintendent of the London Missionary Society in 1819. His campaign on behalf of the oppressed Khoisan coincided with a high point in official sympathy for philanthropic concerns.

One result was Ordinance 50 of 1828, which guaranteed equal civil rights for "people of colour" within the colony and freed them from legal discrimination. At the same time, a powerful anti-slavery movement in Britain promoted a series of ameliorative measures, imposed on the colonies in the 1820s, and the proclamation of emancipation, which came into force in 1834. The slaves were subject to a four-year period of "apprenticeship" with their former owners, on the grounds that they must be prepared for freedom, which came on 1 December 1838.

Although slavery had become less profitable because of a depression in the wine industry, Cape slave-owners rallied to oppose emancipation. The compensation money, which the British treasury paid out to sweeten the pill, injected unprecedented liquidity into the stagnant local economy. This brought a spurt of company formation, such as banks and insurance companies, as well as a surge of investment in land and wool sheep in the drier regions of the colony, in the late 1830s.

Wool became a staple export on which the Cape economy depended for its further development in the middle decades of the century.

For the ex-slaves, as for the Khoisan servants, the reality of freedom was very different from the promise. As a wage-based economy developed, they remained dispossessed and exploited, with little opportunity to escape their servile lot.

Increasingly, they were lumped together as the "coloured" people, a group which included the descendants of unions between indigenous and European peoples, and a substantial Muslim minority who became known as the "Cape Malays" (misleadingly, as they mostly came from the Indonesian archipelago).

The coloured people were discriminated against on account of their working-class status as well as their racial identity. Among the poor, especially in and around Cape Town, there continued to be a great deal of racial mixing and intermarriage throughout the 1800s.

In 1820, several thousand British settlers, who were swept up by a scheme to relieve Britain of its unemployed, were placed in the eastern Cape frontier zone as a buffer against the Xhosa chiefdoms.

The vision of a dense settlement of small farmers was, however, ill-conceived and many of the settlers became artisans and traders. The more successful became an entrepreneurial class of merchants, large-scale sheep farmers and speculators with an insatiable demand for land.

Some became fierce warmongers who pressed for the military dispossession of the chiefdoms. They coveted Xhosa land and welcomed the prospect of war involving large-scale military expenditure by the imperial authorities. The Xhosa engaged in raiding as a means of asserting their prior claims to the land. Racial paranoia became integral to white frontier politics. The result was that frontier warfare became endemic through much of the 19th century, during which Xhosa war leaders such as Chief Maqoma became heroic figures to their people.

By the mid-1800s, British settlers of similar persuasion were to be found in Natal. They too called for imperial expansion in support of their land claims and trading enterprises.

Meanwhile, large numbers of the original colonists, the Boers, were greatly extending white occupation beyond the Cape's borders to the north, in the movement that became known as the Great Trek, in the mid-1830s. Alienated by British liberalism, and with their economic enterprise usurped by British settlers, several thousand Boers from the interior districts, accompanied by a number of Khoisan servants, began a series of migrations northwards.

They moved to the Highveld and Natal, skirting the great concentrations of black farmers on the way by taking advantage of the areas disrupted during the Mfecane.

When the British, who were concerned about controlling the traffic through Port Natal (Durban), annexed the territory of Natal in 1843, those emigrant Boers who had hoped to settle there returned inland. These Voortrekkers (as they were later called) coalesced in two land-locked republics, the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. There, the principles of racially exclusive citizenship were absolute, despite the trekkers' reliance on black labour.

With limited coercive power, the Boer communities had to establish relations and develop alliances with some black chiefdoms, neutralising those who obstructed their intrusion or who posed a threat to their security.

Only after the mineral discoveries of the late 1800s did the balance of power swing decisively towards the colonists. The Boer republics then took on the trappings of real statehood and imposed their authority within the territorial borders that they had notionally claimed for themselves.

The Colony of Natal, situated to the south of the mighty Zulu State, developed along very different lines from the original colony of settlement, the Cape. The size of the black population left no room for the assimilationist vision of race domination embraced in the Cape. Chiefdoms consisting mainly of refugee groups in the aftermath of the Mfecane were persuaded to accept colonial protection in return for reserved land and the freedom to govern themselves in accordance with their own customs. These chiefdoms were established in the heart of an expanding colonial territory.

Natal developed a system of political and legal dualism, whereby chiefly rule was entrenched and customary law was codified. Although exemptions from customary law could be granted to the educated products of the missions, in practice they were rare. Urban residence was strictly controlled and political rights outside the reserves were effectively limited to whites. This system is widely regarded as having provided a model for the segregationism that would prevail in the 20th century.

Natal's economy was boosted by the development of sugar plantations in the subtropical coastal lowlands. Indian-indentured labourers were imported from 1860 to work the plantations, and many Indian traders and market gardeners followed. These Indians, who were segregated and discriminated against from the start, became a further important element in South Africa's population. It was in South Africa that Indian activist and leader, Mohandas Gandhi refined, from the mid-1890s, the techniques of passive resistance, which he later effectively practised in India. Although Indians gradually moved into the Transvaal and elsewhere, they remain concentrated in Natal.

In 1853, the Cape Colony was granted a representative legislature in keeping with British policy, followed in 1872 by self-government. The franchise was formally non-racial, but also based on income and property qualifications. The result was that Africans and coloured people formed a minority of voters - although in certain places a substantial one.

What became known as the "liberal tradition" in the Cape depended on the fact that the great mass of Bantu-speaking farmers remained outside its colonial borders until late in the 19th century. Non-racialism could thus be embraced without posing a threat to white supremacy.

Numbers of Africans within the Cape Colony had sufficient formal education or owned enough property to qualify for the franchise. Political alliances across racial lines were common in the eastern Cape constituencies. It is therefore not surprising that the eastern Cape became a seedbed of African nationalism, once the ideal and promise of inclusion in the common society had been so starkly violated by later racial policies.

The mineral revolution

By the late 19th century, the limitations of the Cape's liberal tradition were becoming apparent. The hardening of racial attitudes that accompanied the rise of a more militant imperialist spirit coincided locally with the watershed discovery of mineral riches in the interior of southern Africa.

In a developing economy, cheap labour was at a premium, and the claims of educated Africans for equality met with increasingly fierce resistance.

At the same time, the large numbers of Africans in the chiefdoms beyond the Kei River and north of the Gariep (Orange River), then being incorporated into the Cape Colony, posed new threats to racial supremacy and white security, increasing segregationist pressures.

Alluvial diamonds were discovered on the Vaal River in the late 1860s. The subsequent discovery of dry deposits at what became the city of Kimberley drew tens of thousands of people, black and white, to the first great industrial hub in Africa, and the largest diamond deposit in the world. In 1871, the British, who ousted several rival claimants, annexed the diamond fields.

The Colony of Griqualand West thus created was incorporated into the Cape Colony in 1880. By 1888, the consolidation of diamond claims had led to the creation of the huge De Beers monopoly under the control of Cecil Rhodes. He used his power and wealth to become prime minister of the Cape Colony (from 1890 to 1896) and, through his chartered British South Africa Company, conqueror and ruler of modern-day Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The mineral discoveries had a major impact on the subcontinent as a whole. A railway network linking the interior to the coastal ports revolutionised transportation and energised agriculture. Coastal cities such as modern-day Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban experienced an economic boom as port facilities were upgraded.

The fact that the mineral discoveries coincided with a new era of imperialism and the scramble for Africa, brought imperial power and influence to bear in southern Africa as never before.

Independent African chiefdoms were systematically subjugated and incorporated by their white-ruled neighbours. In 1897, Zululand was incorporated into Natal.

The South African Republic (Transvaal) was annexed by Britain in 1877. Boer resistance led to British withdrawal in 1881, but not before the Pedi (northern Sotho) state, which fell within the republic's borders, had been subjugated. The indications were that, having once been asserted, British hegemony was likely to be reasserted.

The southern Sotho and Swazi territories were also brought under British rule but maintained their status as imperial dependencies, so that both the current Lesotho and Swaziland escaped the rule of local white regimes.

The discovery of the Witwatersrand goldfields in 1886 was a turning point in the history of South Africa. It presaged the emergence of the modern South African industrial state.

Once the extent of the reefs had been established, and deep-level mining had proved to be a viable investment, it was only a matter of time before Britain and its local representatives again found a pretext for war against the Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

The demand for franchise rights for English-speaking immigrants on the goldfields (known as uitlanders) provided a lever for applying pressure on the government of President Paul Kruger. Egged on by the deep-level mining magnates, to whom the Boer government seemed obstructive and inefficient, and by the expectation of an uitlander uprising, Rhodes launched a raid into the Transvaal in late December 1895. The raid's failure saw the end of Rhodes' political career, but Sir Alfred Milner, British high commissioner in South Africa from 1897, was determined to overthrow Kruger's government and establish British rule throughout the subcontinent. The Boer government was eventually forced into a declaration of war in October 1899.

The mineral discoveries had a radical impact on every sphere of society. Labour was required on a massive scale and could only be provided by Africans, who had to be drawn away from the land.

Many Africans responded with alacrity to the opportunities presented by wage labour, travelling long distances to earn money to supplement rural enterprise in the homestead economy.

In response to the expansion of internal markets, Africans exploited their farming skills and family labour to good effect to increase production for sale. A substantial black peasantry arose, often by means of share-cropping or labour tenantry on white-owned farms.

For the white authorities, however, the chief consideration was ensuring a labour supply and undermining black competition on the land. Conquest, land dispossession, taxation and pass laws were designed to force black people off the land and channel them into labour markets, especially to meet the needs of the mines.

Gradually, the alternatives available to Africans were closed, and the decline of the homestead economy made wage labour increasingly essential for survival. The integration of Africans into the emerging urban and industrial society of South Africa should have followed these developments, but short-term, recurrent labour migrancy suited employers and the authorities, which sought to entrench the system.

The closed compounds pioneered on the diamond fields, as a means of migrant labour control, were replicated at the gold mines. The preservation of communal areas from which migrants could be drawn had the effect of lowering wages, by denying Africans rights within the urban areas and keeping their families and dependants on subsistence plots in the reserves.

Africans could be denied basic rights if the fiction could be maintained that they did not belong in "white South Africa", but to "tribal societies" from which they came to service the "white man's needs". Where black families secured a toehold in the urban areas, local authorities confined them to segregated "locations". This set of assumptions and policies informed the development of segregationist ideology and, later (from 1948), apartheid.

The Anglo-Boer/South African War (October 1899 - May 1902) and its aftermath

The war that followed the mineral revolution was mainly a white man's war.

In its first phase, the Boer forces took the initiative, besieging the frontier towns of Mafeking (Mafikeng) and Kimberley in the northern Cape, and Ladysmith in northern Natal.

Some colonial Boers rebelled, however, in sympathy with the republics. But, after a large expeditionary force under lords Roberts and Kitchener arrived, the British advance was rapid. Kruger fled the Transvaal shortly before Pretoria fell in June 1900. The formal conquest of the two Boer republics was followed by a prolonged guerrilla campaign. Small, mobile groups of Boers denied the imperial forces their victory by disrupting rail links and supply lines.

Commandos swept deep into colonial territory, rousing rebellion wherever they went. The British were at a disadvantage, owing to their lack of familiarity with the terrain and the Boers' superior skills as horsemen and sharpshooters. The British responded with a scorched-earth policy which included farm burnings, looting and the setting-up of concentration camps for non-combatants, in which some 26 000 Boer women and children died from disease. The incarceration of black (including coloured) people in the path of the war in racially segregated camps has been absent in conventional accounts of the war and has only recently been acknowledged.

They too suffered appalling conditions and some 14 000 (perhaps many more) are estimated to have died. At the same time, many black farmers were in a position to meet the demand for produce created by the military, or to avail themselves for employment opportunities at good wages. Some 10 000 black servants accompanied the Boer commandos, and the British used Africans as labourers, scouts, dispatch riders, drivers and guards.

The war also taught many Africans that the forces of dispossession could be rolled back if the circumstances were right. It gave black communities the opportunity to recolonise land lost in conquest, which enabled them to withhold their labour after the war. Most Africans supported the British in the belief that Britain was committed to extending civil and political rights to black people. In this they were to be disappointed, as in the Treaty of Vereeniging that ended the war, the British agreed to leave the issue of rights for Africans to be decided by a future self-governing (white) authority. All in all, the Anglo-Boer/South African War was a radicalising experience for Africans.

Britain's reconstruction regime set about creating a white-ruled dominion by uniting the former Boer republics (both by then British colonies) with Natal and the Cape.

The most important priority was to re-establish white control over the land and force the Africans back to wage labour. The labour-recruiting system was improved, both internally and externally. Recruiting agreements were reached with the Portuguese authorities in Mozambique, from where much mine labour came.

When, by 1904, African resources still proved inadequate to get the mines working at pre-war levels, over 60 000 indentured Chinese were brought in. This precipitated a vociferous outcry from proponents of white supremacy in South Africa and liberals in Britain.

By 1910, all had been repatriated, a step made easier when a surge of Africans came forward from areas such as the Transkeian territories and the northern Transvaal, which had not previously been large-scale suppliers of migrants. This was the heyday of the private recruiters, who exploited families' indebtedness to procure young men to labour in the mines. The Africans' post-war ability to withhold their labour was undercut by government action, abetted by drought and stock disease.

The impact of the Anglo-Boer/South African War as a seminal influence on the development of Afrikaner nationalist politics became apparent in subsequent years.

The Boer leaders - most notably Louis Botha, Jan Smuts and JBM Hertzog - played a dominant role in the country's politics for the next half century. After initial plans for anglicisation of the defeated Afrikaners were abandoned as impractical, the British looked to the Afrikaners as collaborators in securing imperial political and economic interests.

During 1907 and 1908, the two former Boer republics were granted self-government but, crucially, with a whites-only franchise. Despite promises to the contrary, black interests were sacrificed in the interest of white nation-building across the white language divide. The National Convention drew up a constitution and the four colonies became an independent dominion called the Union of South Africa on 31 May 1910.

The 19th century formally non-racial franchise was retained in the Cape but was not extended elsewhere, where rights of citizenship were confined to whites alone. It was clear from the start that segregation was the conventional wisdom of the new rulers. Black people were defined as outsiders, without rights or claims on the common society that their labour had helped to create.


Government policy in the Union of South Africa did not develop in isolation, but against the backdrop of black political initiatives. Segregation and apartheid assumed their shape, in part, as a white response to Africans' increasing participation in the country's economic life and their assertion of political rights. Despite the government's efforts to shore up traditionalism and retribalise them, black people became more fully integrated into the urban and industrial society of 20th-century South Africa than elsewhere on the continent. An educated élite of clerics, teachers, business people, journalists and professionals grew to be a major force in black politics. Mission Christianity and its associated educational institutions exerted a profound influence on African political life, and separatist churches were early vehicles for African political assertion. The experiences of studying abroad, and in particular, interaction with black people struggling for their rights elsewhere in Africa, the United States of America and the Caribbean, played an important part. A vigorous black press arose, associated in its early years with such pioneer editors as JT Jabavu, Pixley Seme, Dr Abdullah Abdurahman, Sol Plaatje and John Dube, served the black reading public.

At the same time, African communal struggles to maintain access to the land in rural areas posed a powerful challenge to the white state. Traditional authorities often led popular struggles against intrusive and manipulative policies. Government attempts to control and co-opt the chiefs often failed. Steps towards the formation of a national political organisation of coloureds began around the turn of the century, with the formation of the African Political Organisation in 1902 by Dr Abdurahman, mainly in the Cape Province.

The African National Congress (ANC), founded in 1912, became the most important black organisation drawing together traditional authorities and the educated African élite in common causes.

In its early years, the ANC was concerned mainly with constitutional protest.

Worker militancy emerged in the wake of the First World War and continued through the 1920s. It included strikes and an anti-pass campaign given impetus by women, particularly in the Free State, resisting extension of the pass laws to them. The Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union, under the leadership of Clements Kadalie, was (despite its name) the first populist, nationwide organisation representing blacks in rural as well as urban areas. But it was short-lived.

The Communist Party, formed in 1921 and since then a force for both non-racialism and worker organisation, was to prove far longer-lasting. In other sections of the black population too, the turn of the century saw organised opposition emerging. Gandhi's leadership of protest against discriminatory laws gave impetus to the formation of provincial Indian congresses, including the Natal Indian Congress formed by Gandhi in 1894.

The principles of segregationist thinking were laid down in a 1905 report by the South African Native Affairs Commission and continued to evolve in response to these economic, social and political pressures. In keeping with its recommendations, the first union government enacted the seminal Natives Land Act in 1913.

This defined the remnants of their ancestral lands after conquest for African occupation, and declared illegal all land purchases or rent tenancy outside these reserves.

The reserves ("homelands" as they were subsequently called) eventually comprised about 13% of South Africa's land surface. Administrative and legal dualism reinforced the division between white citizen and black non-citizen, a dispensation personified by the governor-general who, as "supreme chief" over the country's African majority, was empowered to rule them by administrative fiat and decree.

The government also regularised the job colour bar, reserving skilled work for whites and denying African workers the right to organise. Legislation, which was consolidated in the Natives (Urban Areas) Act, 1923, entrenched urban segregation and controlled African mobility by means of pass laws. The pass laws were designed to force Africans into labour and to keep them there under conditions and at wage levels that suited white employers, and to deny them any bargaining power. In these and other ways, the foundations of apartheid were laid by successive governments representing the compromises hammered out by the National Convention of 1908 to 1909 to effect the union of English- and Afrikaans-speaking whites. However, divisions within the white community remained significant. Afrikaner nationalism grew as a factor in the years after union.

It was given impetus in 1914, both by the formation of the National Party (NP), in a breakaway from the ruling South African Party, and by a rebellion of Afrikaners who could not reconcile themselves with the decision to join the First World War against Germany.

In part, the NP spoke for Afrikaners impoverished by the Anglo-Boer/South African War and dislodged from the land by the development of capitalist farming.

An Afrikaner underclass was emerging in the towns, which found itself uncompetitive in the labour market, as white workers demanded higher wages than those paid to blacks.

Soon, labour issues came to the fore. In 1920, some 71 000 black mineworkers went on strike in protest against the spiralling cost of living, but the strike was quickly put down by isolating the compounds where the migrant workers were housed. Another threat to government came from white workers. Immigrant white workers with mining experience abroad performed much of the skilled and semi-skilled work on the mines. As mine owners tried to cut costs by using lower-wage black labour in semi-skilled jobs, white labour became increasingly militant. These tensions culminated in a bloody and dramatic rebellion on the goldfields in 1922, which the Smuts government put down with military force. In 1924, a pact government under Hertzog, comprising Afrikaner nationalists and representatives of immigrant labour, ousted the Smuts regime.

The pact was based on a common suspicion of the dominance of mining capital, and a determination to protect the interests of white labour by intensifying discrimination against blacks. The commitment to white labour policies in government employment, such as the railways and postal service was intensified, and the job colour bar was reinforced, with a key objective being to address what was known as the "poor-white problem".

In 1934, the main white parties fused to combat the local effects of a worldwide depression.

This was followed by a new Afrikaner nationalist breakaway under Dr DF Malan. In 1936, white supremacy was further entrenched by the United Party with the removal of the Africans of the Cape Province who qualified, from the common voters' roll. Meanwhile, Malan's breakaway NP was greatly augmented by an Afrikaner cultural revival spearheaded by the secret white male Afrikaner Broederbond and other cultural organisations during the year of the Voortrekker centenary celebrations (1938), as well as by anti-war sentiment from 1939.


After the Second World War in 1948, the NP, with its ideology of apartheid that brought an even more rigorous and authoritarian approach than the segregationist policies of previous governments, won the general election. It did so against the background of a revival of mass militancy during the 1940s, after a period of relative quiescence in the 1930s when black groups attempted to foster unity among themselves.

The change was marked by the formation of the ANC Youth League in 1943, fostering the leadership of figures such as Anton Lembede, AP Mda, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, who were to inspire the struggle for decades to come.

In the 1940s, squatter movements in peri-urban areas brought mass politics back to the urban centres. The 1946 Mineworkers' Strike was a turning point in the emergence of a politics of mass mobilisation.

As was the case with the First World War, the experience of the Second World War and post-war economic difficulties enhanced discontent. For those who supported the NP, its primary appeal lay in its determination to maintain white domination in the face of rising mass resistance; uplift poor Afrikaners; challenge the pre-eminence of English-speaking whites in public life, the professions and business; and abolish the remaining imperial ties.

The state became an engine of patronage for Afrikaner employment. The Afrikaner Broederbond co-ordinated the party's programme, ensuring that Afrikaner nationalist interests and policies attained ascendancy throughout civil society.

In 1961, the NP Government under Prime Minister HF Verwoerd declared South Africa a republic, after winning a whites-only referendum on the issue. A new currency, the Rand, and a new flag, anthem and coat of arms were formally introduced.

South Africa, having become a republic, had to apply for continued membership of the Commonwealth. In the face of demands for an end to apartheid, South Africa withdrew its application and a figurehead president replaced the British queen (represented locally by the governor-general) as head of state.

In most respects, apartheid was a continuation, in more systematic and brutal form, of the segregationist policies of previous governments.

A new concern with racial purity was apparent in laws prohibiting interracial sexual activities and provisions for population registration requiring that every South African be assigned to one discrete racial category or another.

For the first time, the coloured people, who had always been subjected to informal discrimination, were brought within the ambit of discriminatory laws. In the mid-1950s, government took the drastic step of overriding an entrenched clause in the 1910 Constitution of the Union so as to be able to remove coloured voters from the common voters' roll. It also enforced residential segregation, expropriating homes where necessary and policing massive forced removals into coloured "group areas".

Until the 1940s, South Africa's racial policies had not been entirely out of step with those to be found in the colonial world. But by the 1950s, which saw decolonisation and a global backlash against racism gather pace, the country was dramatically opposed to world opinion on questions of human rights. The architects of apartheid, among whom Dr Verwoerd was pre-eminent, responded by elaborating a theory of multinationalism.

Their policy, which they termed "separate development", divided the African population into artificial ethnic "nations", each with its own "homeland" and the prospect of "independence", supposedly in keeping with trends elsewhere on the continent.

This divide-and-rule strategy was designed to disguise the racial basis of official policy-making by the substitution of the language of ethnicity. This was accompanied by much ethnographic engineering as efforts were made to resurrect tribal structures. In the process, the government sought to create a significant collaborating class.

The truth was that the rural reserves were by this time thoroughly degraded by overpopulation and soil erosion. This did not prevent four of the "homeland" structures (Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei) being declared "independent", a status which the vast majority of South Africans, and therefore also the international community, declined to recognise. In each case, the process involved the repression of opposition and the use by the government of the power to nominate and thereby pad elected assemblies with a quota of compliant figures.

Forced removals from "white" areas affected some 3,5 million people and vast rural slums were created in the homelands, which were used as dumping grounds. The pass laws and influx control were extended and harshly enforced, and labour bureaux were set up to channel labour to where it was needed. Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested or prosecuted under the pass laws each year, reaching over half a million a year from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. Industrial decentralisation to growth points on the borders of (but not inside) the homelands was promoted as a means of keeping blacks out of "white" South Africa.

In virtually every sphere, from housing to education to healthcare, central government took control over black people's lives with a view to reinforcing their allotted role as "temporary sojourners", welcome in "white" South Africa solely to serve the needs of the employers of labour. However, these same programmes of control became the focus of resistance. In particular, the campaign against the pass laws formed a cornerstone of the struggle.

The end of apartheid

The introduction of apartheid policies coincided with the adoption by the ANC in 1949 of its programme of action, expressing the renewed militancy of the 1940s. The programme embodied the rejection of white domination and a call for action in the form of protests, strikes and demonstrations. There followed a decade of turbulent mass action in resistance to the imposition of still harsher forms of segregation and oppression.

The Defiance Campaign of 1952 carried mass mobilisation to new heights under the banner of non-violent resistance to the pass laws. These actions were influenced in part by the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi.

A critical step in the emergence of non-racialism was the formation of the Congress Alliance, including the ANC; South African Indian Congress; the Coloured People's Congress; a small white congress organisation (the Congress of Democrats); and the South African Congress of Trade Unions.

The alliance gave formal expression to an emerging unity across racial and class lines that was manifested in the Defiance Campaign and other mass protests, including against the Bantu education of this period, which also saw women's resistance take a more organised character with the formation of the Federation of South African Women.

In 1955, the Freedom Charter was drawn up at the Congress of the People in Soweto. The charter enunciated the principles of the struggle, binding the movement to a culture of human rights and non-racialism. Over the next few decades, the Freedom Charter was elevated to an important symbol of the freedom struggle.

The Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), founded by Robert Sobukwe and based on the philosophies of "Africanism" and anti-communism, broke away from the Congress Alliance in 1959.

The state's initial response, harsh as it was, was not yet as draconian as it was to become. Its attempt to prosecute more than 150 anti-apartheid leaders for treason, in a trial that began in 1956, ended in acquittals in 1961. But by that time, mass organised opposition had been banned.

Matters came to a head at Sharpeville in March 1960, when 69 anti-pass demonstrators were killed when police fired on a demonstration called by the PAC. A state of emergency was imposed and detention without trial was introduced.

The black political organisations were banned and their leaders went into exile or were arrested. In this climate, the ANC and PAC abandoned their long-standing commitment to non-violent resistance and turned to armed struggle, combined with underground organisation and mobilisation as well as mobilisation of international solidarity. Top leaders, including members of the newly formed military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) (Spear of the Nation), were arrested in 1963. In the " Rivonia Trial", eight ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were convicted of sabotage (instead of treason, the original charge) and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In this period, leaders of other organisations, including the PAC and the New Unity Movement, were also sentenced to long terms of imprisonment and/or banned.

The 1960s was a decade of overwhelming repression and relative political disarray among blacks in the country. Armed action was contained by the state.

State repression played a central role in containing internal resistance, and the leadership of the struggle shifted increasingly to the missions in exile. At the same time, the ANC leadership embarked on a campaign to infiltrate the country through what was then Rhodesia.

In August 1967, a joint force of MK and the Zimbabwean People's Revolutionary Army (Zipra) of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu) entered Zimbabwe, and over a two-month period engaged the joint Rhodesian and South African security forces.

Although the joint MK-Zipra force failed to reach South Africa, this was the first military confrontation between the military forces of the ANC-led alliance and white security forces.

The resurgence of resistance politics from the early 1970s was dramatic. The Black Consciousness Movement, led by Steve Biko (who was killed in detention in 1977), reawakened a sense of pride and self-esteem in black people.

News of the brutal death of Biko reverberated around the globe and led to unprecedented outrage.

As capitalist economies sputtered with the oil crisis of 1973, black trade unions revived.

A wave of strikes reflected a new militancy that involved better organisation and was drawing new sectors, in particular intellectuals and the student movement, into mass struggle and debate over the principles informing it. Rallies at black universities in support of Frelimo, the Mozambican liberation movement, also gave expression to the growing militancy. The year 1976 marked the beginning of a sustained anti-apartheid revolt. In June, school pupils of Soweto rose up against apartheid education, followed by youth uprisings all around the country. Despite the harsh repression that followed, students continued to organise, with the formation in 1979 of organisations for school students ( Congress of South African Students) and college and university students ( Azanian Students Organisation). By the 1980s, the different forms of struggle - armed struggle, mass mobilisation and international solidarity - were beginning to integrate and coalesce.

The United Democratic Front and the informal umbrella, the Mass Democratic Movement, emerged as legal vehicles of democratic forces struggling for liberation. Clerics played a prominent public role in these movements. The involvement of workers in resistance took on a new dimension with the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the National Council of Trade Unions.

Popular anger was directed against all those who were deemed to be collaborating with the government in the pursuit of its objectives, and the black townships became virtually ungovernable. From the mid-1980s, regional and national states of emergency were enforced.

Developments in neighbouring states, where mass resistance to white minority and colonial rule led to Portuguese decolonisation in the mid-1970s and the abdication of Zimbabwe's minority regime in 1980, left South Africa exposed as the last bastion of white supremacy.

Under growing pressure and increasingly isolated internationally, the government embarked on a dual strategy, introducing limited reform coupled with intensifying repression and militarisation of society, with the objective of containing the pressures and increasing its support base while crushing organised resistance.

An early example of reform was the recognition of black trade unions to try to stabilise labour relations. In 1983, the Constitution was reformed to allow the coloured and Indian minorities limited participation in separate and subordinate houses of Parliament.

The vast majority of these groups demonstrated their rejection of the tricameral dispensation through massive boycotts of elections, but it was kept in place by the apartheid regime despite its visible lack of legitimacy. Attempts to legitimise community councils as vehicles for the participation of Africans outside the Bantustans in local government met a similar fate.

Militarisation included the ascendancy of the State Security Council, which usurped the role of the executive in crucial respects, and a succession of states of emergency as part of the implementation of a comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy to combat what, by the mid-1980s, was an endemic insurrectionary spirit in the land.

However, by the late 1980s, popular resistance was taking the form of mass defiance campaigns, while struggles over more localised issues saw broad sections of communities mobilised in united action. Popular support for released political prisoners and for the armed struggle was being openly expressed.

In response to the rising tide of resistance, the international community strengthened its support for the anti-apartheid cause. Sanctions and boycotts were instituted, both unilaterally by countries across the world and through the United Nations (UN). These sanctions were called for in a co-ordinated strategy by the internal and external anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

FW de Klerk, who replaced PW Botha as State President in 1989, announced at the opening of Parliament in February 1990 the unbanning of the liberation movements and release of political prisoners, among them, Nelson Mandela. A number of factors led to this step. International financial, trade, sport and cultural sanctions were clearly biting.

Above all, even if South Africa was nowhere near collapse, either militarily or economically, several years of emergency rule and ruthless repression had clearly neither destroyed the structures of organised resistance, nor helped establish legitimacy for the apartheid regime or its collaborators. Instead, popular resistance, including mass and armed action, was intensifying.

The ANC, enjoying popular recognition and legitimacy as the foremost liberation organisation, was increasingly regarded as a government-in-waiting.

International support for the liberation movement came from various countries around the globe, particularly from former socialist countries and Nordic countries as well as the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

The other liberation organisations increasingly experienced various internal and external pressures and did not enjoy much popular support.

To outside observers, and also in the eyes of growing numbers of white South Africans, apartheid stood exposed as morally bankrupt, indefensible and impervious to reforms.

The collapse of global communism, the negotiated withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola, and the culmination of the South-West African People's Organisation's liberation struggle in the negotiated independence of Namibia - formerly South-West Africa, administered by South Africa as a League of Nations mandate since 1919 - did much to change the mindset of white people. No longer could they demonise the ANC and PAC as fronts for international communism.

White South Africa had also changed in deeper ways. Afrikaner nationalism had lost much of its raison d'être. Many Afrikaners had become urban, middle class and relatively prosperous.

Their ethnic grievances and attachment to ethnic causes and symbols had diminished. A large part of the NP's core constituency was ready to explore larger national identities, even across racial divides, and yearned for international respectability. In 1982, disenchanted hardliners split from the NP to form the Conservative Party, leaving the NP open to more flexible and modernising influences.

After this split, factions within the Afrikaner élite openly started to pronounce in favour of a more inclusive society, causing more friction with the NP government, which became increasingly militaristic and authoritarian.

A number of business, student and academic Afrikaners held meetings publicly and privately with the ANC in exile. Secret talks were held between the imprisoned Mandela and government ministers about a new dispensation for South Africa, with blacks forming a major part of it.

Inside the country, mass action became the order of the day. Petty apartheid laws and symbols were openly challenged and removed. Together with a sliding economy and increasing international pressure, these developments made historic changes inevitable.

The First Decade of Freedom

After a long negotiation process, sustained despite much opportunistic violence from the right wing and its surrogates, and in some instances sanctioned by elements of the state, South Africa's first democratic election was held in April 1994 under an interim Constitution.

The interim Constitution divided South Africa into nine new provinces in place of the previous four provinces and 10 "homelands", and provided for the Government of National Unity to be constituted by all parties with at least 20 seats in the National Assembly.

The ANC emerged from the election with a 62% majority. The main opposition came from the NP, which gained 20% of the vote nationally, and a majority in the Western Cape. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) received 10% of the vote, mainly in its KwaZulu-Natal base. The NP and the IFP formed part of the Government of National Unity until 1996, when the NP withdrew. The ANC-led Government embarked on a programme to promote the reconstruction and development of the country and its institutions.

This called for the simultaneous pursuit of democratisation and socio-economic change, as well as reconciliation and the building of consensus founded on the commitment to improve the lives of all South Africans, in particular the poor. It required the integration of South Africa into a rapidly changing global environment.

Pursuit of these objectives was a consistent focus of government during the First Decade of Freedom, seeking the unity of a previously divided society in working together to overcome the legacy of a history of division, exclusion and neglect.

Converting democratic ideals into practice required, among other things, initiating a radical overhaul of the machinery of government at every level, working towards service delivery, openness, and a culture of human rights. It has required a more integrated approach to planning and implementation to ensure that the many different aspects of transformation and socio-economic upliftment cohere with maximum impact.

A significant milestone in the democratisation of South Africa was the exemplary Constitution-making process, which in 1996 delivered a document that has evoked worldwide admiration. So too have been the elections subsequent to 1994 - all conducted peacefully, with high levels of participation compared with the norm in most democracies, and accepted by all as free and fair in their conduct and results. Local government elections during 1995 and 1996, and then again in 2000 after the transformation of the municipal system, gave the country its first democratically elected non-racial municipal authorities.

Since 2001, participatory democracy and interactive governance have been strengthened through the practice of imbizo, roving executive council and mayoral meetings, in which members of the executive, in all three spheres of government, including The Presidency, regularly engage directly with the public around implementation of programmes of reconstruction and development.

The second democratic national election in 1999 saw the ANC majority increase to just short of two thirds and the election of Mr Thabo Mbeki as president and successor to Mr Mandela. It saw a sharp decline of the NP (then the New National Party [NNP]) and its replacement by the Democratic Party, led by Mr Tony Leon, as the official opposition in Parliament. These two parties formed the Democratic Alliance, which the NNP left in 2001.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), under the leadership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, helped inculcate a commitment to accountability and transparency in South Africa's public life, at the same time helping to heal wounds inflicted by the inhumanities of the apartheid era.

During 2003, Parliament accepted the Government's response to the final report of the TRC. Out of 22 000 individuals or surviving families appearing before the commission, 19 000 were identified as needing urgent reparation assistance - virtually all, where the necessary information was available, received interim reparations.

As final reparations, government provided a once-off grant of R30 000 to individuals or survivors who appeared before, and were designated by, the TRC, over and above the programmes for material assistance. There are continuing programmes to project the symbolism of the struggle and the ideal of freedom. These include the Freedom Park and other symbols and monuments, and such matters as records of history, remaking of cultural and art forms and changing geographical and place names.

The ethos of partnership informed the establishment of the National Economic Development and Labour Council. It brings together government, business, organised labour and development organisations to confront the challenges of growth and development for South Africa in a turbulent and globalising international economy.

The Presidential Jobs Summit in 1998 and the Growth and Development Summit (GDS) in June 2003 brought these sectors together to collectively take advantage of the conditions in South Africa for faster growth and development.

At the GDS, a comprehensive set of agreements was concluded to address urgent challenges in a practical way and to speed up job-creating growth and development.

Partnership between government and civil society was further strengthened by the creation of a number of working groups through which sectors of society - business, organised labour, higher education, religious leaders, youth and women - engage regularly with the President.

In the First Decade of Freedom, government placed emphasis on meeting basic needs through programmes for socio-economic development such as the provision of housing, piped water, electricity, education and healthcare, as well as social grants for those in need.

Another priority was the safety and security of citizens, which required both transforming the police into a service working with the community, and overcoming grave problems of criminality and a culture of violence posed by the social dislocations inherited from the past.

Key economic objectives included job creation, poverty eradication, reduction of inequality and overall growth. There was much progress in rebuilding the economy, in particular with the achievement of macroeconomic stability and the initiation of programmes of microeconomic reform. By the end of 2004, growth was accelerating and there were signs of the beginnings of a reduction in unemployment.

The integration of South Africa into the global political, economic and social system has been a priority for democratic South Africa. As a country isolated during the apartheid period, an African country, a developing country, and a country whose liberation was achieved with the support of the international community, it remains of critical importance to build political and economic links with the countries and regions of the world, and to work with others for an international environment more favourable to development across the world, and in Africa and South Africa in particular.

The South African Government is committed to the African Renaissance, which is based on the consolidation of democracy, economic development and a co-operative approach to resolving the challenges the continent faces.

South Africa hosted the launch in 2002 of the African Union (AU), a step towards further unification of Africa in pursuit of socio-economic development, the Organisation of African Unity having fulfilled its mandate to liberate Africa. President Mbeki chaired the AU for its founding year, handing over the chair to President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in July 2003.

In 2004, the AU decided that South Africa should host the Pan-African Parliament and it met for its second session in South Africa, the first time on South African soil, in September of that year.

By participating in UN and AU initiatives to resolve conflict and promote peace and security on the continent - in among other countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Sudan - South Africa has contributed to the achievement of conditions conducive to the entrenchment of stability, democracy and faster development.

During the First Decade of Freedom, it acted at various times as chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), NAM, AU and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings. It has played host to several international conferences, including the UN Conference on Trade and Development in 1996, the 2000 World AIDS Congress, World Conference Against Racism in 2001, World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, and the World Parks Congress in 2003. The country has also been represented on international forums such as the International Monetary Fund's Development Committee and Interpol.

Into the Second Decade of Freedom

When South Africa celebrated 10 years of freedom in 2004, there were celebrations across the world in countries whose peoples had helped to bring freedom to South Africa through their solidarity, and who today are partners in reconstruction and development.

As government took stock of the First Decade of Freedom in Towards a Ten Year Review, it was able to document great progress by South Africans in pursuit of their goals, as well as the challenges that face the nation as it traverses the second decade of its freedom towards 2014.

In its third democratic elections, in April 2004, the country gave an increased mandate to the Government's programme for reconstruction and development and for the entrenchment of the rights inscribed in the Constitution. It mandated government specifically to create the conditions for halving unemployment and poverty by 2014. Following these elections, Thabo Mbeki was appointed to a second term of office as President of South Africa - a position he relinquished in September 2008, following the decision of the National Executive Committee of the ANC to recall him. Parliament elected Kgalema Motlanthe as President of South Africa on 25 September 2008.

Local government elections in 2006, following a long period of civic unrest as communities protested against a mixed record of service delivery, saw increased participation compared with the previous local elections, as well as increased support for the ruling party based on a manifesto for a concerted effort, in partnership with communities, to make local government work better.

South Africa held national and provincial elections to elect a new National Assembly as well as the provincial legislature in each province on 22 April 2009. Some 23 million people were registered for the 2009 general election, which were about 2,5 million more than in 2004. About 77% of registered voters took part in the election. The results for the top five parties were as follows: the ANC achieved 65,9%; the DA 16,6%; the newlyformed Congress of the People 7,4%; the IFP 4,5%; and the Independent Democrats 0,9% of the votes cast.

Jacob Zuma was inaugurated as President of South Africa on 9 May 2009. Shortly thereafter, President Zuma announced several changes to current government departments and the creation of new structures within The Presidency. The latter essentially comprises the Ministry for Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration and the National Planning Ministry, in keeping with the new administration's approach to intensify government delivery through an outcomes-based approach, coupled with a government-wide monitoring and evaluation system.

During 2010, much effort was dedicated into organising and shifting government onto a new plateau of efficiency and accountability. The Cabinet Lekgotla, held from 20 to 22 January 2010, adopted the following 12 outcomes as focus areas for government's work:

an improved quality of basic education
a long and healthy life for all South Africans
all South Africans should be safe and feel safe
decent employment through inclusive growth
a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network
vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities with food security for all
sustainable human settlements and an improved quality of household life
a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system
environmental assets and natural resources that are well protected and enhanced
a better Africa and a better world as a result of South Africa's contributions to global relations
an efficient and development-oriented public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.

A big part of making the outcomes a reality lies in escalating the extent to which departments are accountable for their delivery areas. The President has signed performance agreements with all 34 Cabinet ministers. Delivery agreements will further

unpack each outcome and each output and the requirements to reach the targets. The performance monitoring and evaluation systems that have been put in place will continue to be built upon so that the work of government towards achieving these outcomes is consistently tracked.

At the end of 2010, the annual Development Indicators were published by the National Planning Commission Secretariat and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. These measures assist in understanding the impact of various government policies and programmes on the country and its citizens. In many spheres there are improvements generally, for example, access to basic services remains on the increase. In other areas, challenges remain. It is envisaged that the launch of the outcomes methodology under the leadership of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, will enable government to improve its performance and for citizens to hold it accountable for its performance.

A significant milestone for South Africa in the Second Decade of Freedom was the
successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

The tournament, which was the first on African soil, demonstrated that South Africa has the infrastructure and capability to warrant serious investment consideration. It also showcased South Africa and its people to the world. According to FIFA, more than matches of the tournament. This was the third-highest aggregate attendance behind the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States of America (USA), and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. This figure excludes the millions of people who watched World Cup games at fan fests, fan parks and public viewing areas across the country, and in cities around the world. Government recorded that more than 1,4 million foreigners visited the country during the tournament.

Government spent about R40 billion on infrastructure projects, and billions more on upgrading roads and airports. Improvements in public transport, security, investment and tourism have already been shown to benefit the people of our country. The hosting of the tournament also resulted in job creation. South Africans demonstrated an explosion of national pride and embraced each other, making the tournament a powerful nation-building tool.

South Africa has continued to build on its international profile. On 1 January 2011, South Africa began its second term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2011 and 2012. South Africa serves alongside the permanent five members, China, France, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom and USA and elected members Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Gabon, Germany, India, Lebanon, Nigeria and Portugal. South Africa in the conduct of its international relations is committed to garner support for its domestic priorities, promote the interests of the African continent, enhance democracy and human rights, uphold justice and international law in relations between nations, seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts and promote economic development through regional and international cooperation in an interdependent world.

The number of diplomatic missions opened abroad increased from 91 in 2001/02 to 124 in 2009/10. The increase has been mainly in Africa in line with government's policy of contributing to creating a better Africa and a better world. Deployment of South African National Defence Force members in other countries in Africa is a clear indication of the South African Government's commitment to peace and stability in Africa.

Source: South Africa Yearbook 2010/11


To be updated soon ...

Government & Politics

Constitutional multiparty, three-tier (local, provincial, national) democracy.
Read more about South Africa's government.


According to Statistics South Africa's (Stats SA) Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2011, there were 50 586 757 people in South Africa in July 2011. The South African population consists of the following groups: the Nguni (comprising the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi people); Sotho-Tswana, who include the Southern, Northern and Western Sotho (Tswana people); Tsonga; Venda; Afrikaners; English; coloureds; Indians; and those who have immigrated to South Africa from the rest of Africa, Europe and Asia and who maintain a strong cultural identity. A few members of the Khoi and the San also live in South Africa.

Estimates by population group and gender










% of total



% of total



% of total



19 472 038


20 734 237


40 206 275



2 188 782


2 351 008


4 539 790



626 690


648 177


1 274 867



2 227 526


2 338 299


4 565 825



24 515 036


26 071 721


50 586 757


Source: Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2011


According to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice, but no one may do so in a manner that is inconsistent with any provision of the Bill of Rights. Each person also has the right to instruction in his or her language of choice where this is reasonably practicable.

Official languages

The diversity of the unique cultures of South Africa means that there are 11 official languages.

These are English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, isiNdebele, Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. The Constitution also requires the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) to promote the use of the Khoi, Nama and San languages, and Sign Language.

Although English is the mother tongue of only 8,2% of the population, it is the language most widely understood, and the second language of the majority of South Africans. However, government is committed to promoting all official languages.

Mother tongues







Sesotho sa Leboa


















Source: Census 2001


According to the Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.

Almost 80% of South Africa's population follows the Christian faith. Other major religious groups are the Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. A minority of South Africa's population do not belong to any of the major religions, but regard themselves as traditionalists of no specific religious affiliation.

Christian churches

There are various Christian churches throughout the country. There are many official and unofficial ecumenical relations between the various churches. One of the most important of these links is the South African Council of Churches (SACC), although it is not representative of all churches.

The major African indigenous churches, most of the Afrikaans churches, and the Pentecostal and charismatic churches are, as a rule, not members of the SACC, and usually have their own coordinating liaison bodies.

African independent churches (AICs)

The largest grouping of Christian churches is the African independent churches (AICs), represented by the Zionist or Apostolic churches. The Pentecostal movement also has its independent offshoots in this group.

There are 4 000 or more independent churches, with a combined membership of more than 10 million. Most are regarded as Zionist or Apostolic churches. The Zion Christian Church is the largest of these churches in South Africa and the largest church overall, with over four million members.

Religious affiliation





African Traditional Religion






No religion






Source: Census 2001



Hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ acted as a catalyst for expanding the country's infrastructure base, skills development, employment creation and economic growth. The tournament boosted the country's standing internationally, showcasing its capabilities in
delivering world-class infrastructure on time and without imposing a financial burden on the national fiscus.

The South African Government injected some R33 billion into preparations for the World Cup, which was an investment that formed part of a long-term development plan for the country.

Some R846 billion has been committed over the next three years to a public-sector infrastructure programme. More than 45% of these funds have been committed to South Africa's electricity, freight rail and ports sectors.

Did you know? 

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) approved R1,4 billion in loans to distressed companies during 2009's recession. Total loan approvals for the financial year, which ended in March 2010, decreased to R9,4 billion compared to R10,8 billion the previous year. The IDC intensified its lending activities and continued its focus on economic expansion with 65% of approved funding allocated to start-up companies or expansionary activities. The IDC's lending activities created or saved 25 000 jobs.

The New Growth Path

The New Growth Path [PDF] is a broad framework that sets out a vision and identifies key areas where jobs can be created.

The new growth path is intended to address unemployment, inequality and poverty in a strategy that is principally reliant on creating a significant increase in the number of new jobs in the economy, mainly in the private sector.

The new growth path sets a target of creating five million jobs in the next ten years. This target is projected to reduce unemployment from 25% to 15%. Critically, this employment target can only be achieved if the social partners and government work together to address key structural challenges in the economy.

These challenges include:

  • bottlenecks and backlogs in logistics, energy infrastructure and skills, which
    constrains economic growth and raises costs
  • low domestic savings and inadequate levels of investment in the productive sectors of the economy
  • economic concentration and price collusion in key parts of the economy which raises costs and limits innovation and new enterprise development
  • an uncompetitive currency that limits employment growth in manufacturing, mining, agriculture and tourism and
  • a persistent balance-of-trade deficit funded with short-term capital inflows attracted largely by high interest rates by international standards.

Leadership Group of the Framework Response to the Economic Crisis

In December 2008, the social partners that comprise the Presidential Economic Joint Working Group met to consider how South Africans should respond collectively to the difficult economic conditions largely as a result of the international economic crisis.

The Framework for South Africa's Response to the International Economic Crisis [PDF] was
tabled and endorsed at a special Presidential Economic Joint Working Group meeting.

The leadership group, which consists of representatives from labour, business, government and the community constituency who are responsible for guiding the implementation of the framework, responded with a range of separate and joint measures to deal with the impact of the recession. These include:

  • In line with the framework agreement, government has maintained a strong countercyclical fiscal and monetary policy stance. Government spending levels have been maintained in spite of a sharp drop in tax revenues.
  • While monetary policy has been the subject of robust debate, interest rates had been reduced by mid-2010 on four occasions by a total of 350 basis points.
  • R11 billion has been set aside for activities designed to address the impact of the recession.
  • South Africa introduced its first-ever training lay-off scheme, making R2,9 billion available for its implementation. The scheme is aimed at providing companies with an alternative to retrenching workers during a period of industrial slack caused by recession, thereby enabling employees to have continued income, employment security and skills acquisition.
  • By mid-2010, the Retrenchment Action Plan, launched by the Manufacturing, ngineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority, had about 7 000 workers in a programme based on the training lay-off model.
  • Other initiatives include the R6,1 billion set aside by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) as special loans for firms in distress, and R2 billion allocated by the Unemployment Insurance Fund to the IDC to be loaned to firms in distress.
  • Commercial banks and the development finance institutions have been developing an agreement that would allow them to help firms in distress by sharing relevant information and sharing risks.

Did you know?

The Training of the Unemployed Project was launched in March 2010. The project seeks to train and re-skill South African workers who were retrenched as a result of the global economic recession. The project trains   electricians, boilermakers, welders and mechanics to be employable and to start their own businesses. By May 2010, more than 750 trainees had registered for the project. The aim is to train as many South Africans as possible.

The qualifications the trainees obtain at the end of their course meet qualification requirements of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and Training Authority. By May 2010, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and other government entities contributed almost R50 million to train the candidates. Participants in the project are paid a stipend of R2 100 a month. The project is due to be completed by the end of July 2011.

Domestic output

According to the South African Reserve Bank's Quarterly Bulletin, released in September 2010, economic growth in the South African economy moderated in the second quarter of 2010. Real gross domestic production (GDP) increased at an annualised rate of 3,2% in the second quarter of 2010, following an increase of 4,6% in the first quarter.

Domestic expenditure

Growth in aggregate real gross domestic expenditure slowed from an annualised rate of
12,1% in the first quarter of 2010, to 2,3% in the second quarter. The slowdown in real gross domestic expenditure resulted primarily from slower growth in real final consumption expenditure by households. Growth in final consumption expenditure by households slowed to an annualised rate of 4,8% in the second quarter of 2010, compared to an increase of 5,7% in the preceding quarter.

Price inflation

While producer price inflation picked up significantly from negative 12-month rates in most of 2009 to positive rates by mid-2010, consumer price inflation has trended lower since August 2008 and remained within the target range in the six months to July 2010, falling below 4% in September.

A combination of economic factors influenced price developments in the domestic economy, with producer prices strongly influenced by a resurgence in international commodity prices since the beginning of 2009 and high electricity price increases, only partly countered by an appreciation in the external value of the Rand.

Consumer prices responded favourably to the counterinflationary forces emanating from
low inflation in tradingpartner countries, the appreciation in the exchange rate of the Rand, substantial surplus capacity in the economy and the resulting intensified competition for business. Deflation in the producer prices of domestic output reverted to inflation in December 2009, accelerating in the following months to July 2010. These price changes were largely due to base effects, higher commodity prices as well as the ongoing elevated electricity price increases announced by Eskom.

Exchange rates

The nominal effective exchange rate of the Rand decreased marginally by 0,8% from the end of March 2010 to the end of June, following an increase of 3,9% during the first quarter. The decline in the exchange rate of the Rand during the second quarter of 2010 may partly be attributed to international economic developments, especially the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. The exchange rate of the Rand performed admirably against the Euro during the second quarter of 2010 while it depreciated considerably against the Japanese Yen.

The weighted average exchange rate of the Rand increased by 1,2% from the end of June 2010 to the end of August partly as a result of United States dollar weakness, an unchanged monetary policy stance as announced by the South African Reserve Bank in July 2010 and a further decline in the domestic inflation rate.

The nominal effective exchange rate of the Rand showed much less volatility during the first half of 2010 compared to the second half of 2009. During the months of January, February, April, June and August 2010 the trade-weighted exchange rate of the Rand did not deviate by more than 2% from the mean, while a deviation of more than 2% was observed in all the months during the second half of 2009. The real effective exchange rate of the Rand increased by 11% during the 12 months up to June 2010. While the increase in the real effective exchange rate of the Rand resulted in a deterioration in the competitiveness of South African exporters, the decline in the volatility of the Rand exchange rate provided some stability to business operations and outcomes.

Foreign trade and payments

Following an increase in the first quarter of 2010, gross dividend payments contracted in
the second quarter of 2010. Net interest payments to foreign creditors and investors increased marginally during the second quarter. The improvement in the deficit on the overall account was further supplemented by a contraction in net current transfer payments to members of the Southern African Customs Union, consistent with the decline in trade volumes.

South Africa's terms of trade improved further in the second quarter of 2010 as the Rand price of exported goods and services increased further while that of imported goods and services declined marginally. The relatively higher Rand price of merchandise exports further supported the improvement in the current-account balance during the second quarter.

Department of Economic Development

The Department of Economic Development, which was established in 2009, assumed
responsibility for coordinating government's work on the Framework for South Africa's response to the International Economic Crisis. The department is also responsible for developing economic policy with broad, cross-cutting focus so that macro- and microeconomic policy reinforce each other and are both aligned to the electoral mandate. The department is responsible for economic development planning and works with other departments to ensure coordination around a programme that places decent work at the centre of government's economic policies to secure better employment outcomes.

Policy development

The department has identified a number of areas with the potential for new jobs. These are:

  • infrastructure development
  • the green economy
  • the manufacturing sector
  • knowledge-economy activities
  • the rural, agriculture and agroprocessing sector
  • tourism and business process services
  • the social economy, which includes cooperatives
  • public-sector growth
  • the continental and regional economy.

An important policy focus for the department will be the creation of sustainable livelihoods and addressing the challenges of enterprises in the Second Economy.

The department will establish the Ministerial Advisory Panel, which will serve as an ideas forum.

Trade relations

Internationally, open economies with an export base perform much better in terms of economic growth than do closed economies. Increasingly, production is becoming globally
integrated, and South Africa forms a vital part of international supply chains.

Therefore, dismantling barriers to trade, especially those faced by South African exporters, is a critical component of any economic strategy that promotes sustainable growth.


Driven by regional economic development and integration imperatives, the South African
Government continues to display its commitment to its neighbours and other members of the Southern African Development Community and regional blocs such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa through the Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) Programme.

The SDI Programme aims to promote trade and investment-led economic growth and
development. The programme methodology allows for the creation of a critical mass of integrated private-sector and infrastructure development necessary to kick-start a sustainable economic development process. It is focused on unlocking inherent economic potential in specific southern African locations, often along existing transport or development corridors. The SDI methodology emphasises the enhancement of the attractiveness of an area for investment by simultaneously advocating the removal of bureaucratic, administrative and institutional impediments to trade and investment.

South Africa continues to be an important source of investments in Africa.

The following areas have been prioritised:

  • infrastructure and logistics
  • energy and information and communications technology
  • water and waste management
  • transport
  • construction
  • oil and gas infrastructure
  • agribusiness
  • mining
  • human-resource development

Relations with the North

South Africa continues to consolidate its economic and trade relations with the major
economies in the north as they remain important markets for goods, services, investment and technology. Trade relations with Europe, particularly with the European Union (EU),
are pivotal to South Africa's economic development. The Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement with the EU forms a substantial element of South Africa's reconstruction and development.

The United Kingdom (UK), Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland are among South
Africa's top-10 export destinations. Germany, the UK and France are among the top-10 countries from which South Africa's imports originate.

Since 2001, Germany has been South Africa's largest source of imports, showing annual
growth of 18,5% between 2007 and 2008. In 2009, Germany was overtaken by China,
which became the largest source of imports.

South-South trade

In pursuing relations with the South, it will be necessary to ensure an approach to trade that will strengthen South Africa's and Africa's efforts to develop an industrial base rather than the continuation of the current pattern of trade where exports of raw material are exchanged for manufactured goods.

Bilateral engagements

The Department of Trade and Industry has learned important lessons that will inform future bilateral engagements. Firstly, as compared to free trade areas, more focused preferential trade agreements allow for a more strategic integration process among developing countries. Secondly, it is increasingly apparent that tariffs are not always the most important barrier faced in foreign markets and hence negotiating outcomes must deal more effectively with non-tariff barriers. Thirdly, the department will need to give attention to forging sectoral cooperation agreements to support South Africa's industrial development objectives.

Multilateral engagements

South Africa is a strong proponent of multilateralism. The country has seen multilateralism as the necessary intergovernmental response to the challenges of globalisation and deepening interdependence among economies and societies around the world. Established as an outcome of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations in 1994, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), having established extensive multilateral rules over global trade, has moved to the centre of an evolving system of multilateral institutions charged with global economic governance.

While multilateral disciplines in the WTO reduce the scope for unilateral action by powerful nations, existing rules exhibit imbalances and inequities that prejudice the trade and development interests of developing countries.

South Africa's support for the launch of the Doha Round was premised on an assessment
that negotiations opened up a possibility to rebalance the global trading system more in favour of developing countries. South Africa's negotiating objectives aim to:

  • enhance market access for products of export interests to developing countries
  • eliminate industrial country subsidies and support to inefficient producers, particularly in agriculture
  • renegotiate rules that perpetuate imbalances in international trade
  • ensure policy space for developing countries to pursue developmental objectives through meaningful implementation of the principle of special and differential treatment.

Over the course of the Doha Round negotiations, the country has witnessed an erosion of the developmental mandate. This has manifested in the gradual lowering of the ambition of developed countries to substantially reform agriculture trade, alongside growing pressure on emerging developing countries to open their markets for industrial products and services.

Economic transformation

The sum total of the estimated 2,8 million small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) contribute between 52% and 57% to the gross domestic product (GDP). It is also estimated that SMMEs contribute nearly 61% of employment.

Government aims to boost small enterprises, equalise income and wealth and create
long-term jobs. Fostering entrepreneurship among women is a particular focus.

Developing SMMEs has attracted increasing attention in South Africa in recent years, as an
engine for general economic growth, and for employment creation and equity acceleration.

The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) provides non-financial support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It aims to:

  • improve geographic outreach
  • achieve the desired impact on small enterprises
  • provide a single access point for small enterprises
  • be inclusive of all relevant stakeholders
  • leverage resources in service delivery
  • optimise resource usage
  • align government's service-delivery strategy coherently

The Department of Trade and Industry established the necessary institutional framework for the promotion of a more inclusive economy, in the form of the Integrated Small Business Strategy and the agencies designed to deliver support and services to SMMEs, namely:

In 2009/10, highlights in this sector included:

  • The Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme leveraged R227 million from the private sector for new technology development and supported 298 enterprises (64% of which are SMMEs), 2 187 students and 685 researchers.
  • The Support Programme for Industrial Innovation recorded sales of R283 million, of which R191 million were export sales for new products and processes in 2009/10, created 176 shop-floor jobs and 59 new projects were supported against a target of 80 projects.
  • The National SMME Directory was finalised incorporating SMME support programmes from the public, private sector and donor-funded programmes.
  • The Cooperative Strategy aimed at developing cooperatives through the     provision and upscaling of the relevant support programmes was finalised and approved by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), including the Nedlac report in this regard.
  • The targeted procurement for small enterprises, through the 10 Product Procurement Policy Framework aimed at increasing access to markets for SMMEs through government procurement was finalised and the SMME payment hotline was successfully launched in September 2009. The Department of Trade and Industry payment hotline received about 20 000 calls in the last financial year, and the value of payments facilitated was R210 million.

State-owned enterprises (SOEs)

The Department of Public Enterprises is the shareholder representative for government with oversight responsibility for the following SOEs:

The role of the department is to ensure that SOEs provide economic growth and give South Africa a cutting edge in the development of key infrastructure and manufacturing capacity.

It monitors performance with regard to:

  • infrastructure investment and delivery
  • operational and industry efficiency
  • financial and commercial viability
  • governance and regulatory compliance.

Optimal excellence and quality service delivery demand that public entities share the same vision of the department, and are responsive to the developmental agenda.

The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) for 2009/14 [PDF] states the need to review the SOEs as part of the economic transformation agenda.

The MTSF also states the need for government to integrate SOEs into the planning
processes and improve the monitoring and evaluation of their performance.

In 2010, President Jacob Zuma appointed the Presidential Review Committee to conduct a review of SOEs and, among other things, to determine how government can strengthen alignment between its development objectives and the strategic role to be played by SOEs in the economy.

Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) is a government-wide intervention to create both short and ongoing work opportunities. The EPWP continues to be a strategic intervention to alleviate poverty and unemployment through the creation of labour-intensive work opportunities.

The EPWP is characterised by, among other things, caring for the elderly and sick, educating pre-school children, rehabilitating and cleaning up the environment, as well as upgrading and maintaining crucial infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and sanitation.

The Leadership Group of the Framework Response to the Economic Crisis accelerated
the development of regulatory measures to provide guidance on improved terms and conditions of employment for EPWP employees, thereby furthering the objectives of decent work.

The EPWP aims to create 4,5 million work opportunities, and more than a million opportunities have been created already since the beginning of Phase Two. Part of the proprogramme focuses on repairing the country's roads networks.

Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa 2010/11

Editor: D Burger. Government Communication and Information System

Transportation & Communication


Excellent roads, rail and air facilities (both domestic and international)

World-class infrastructure. Internet access is widely available. There are four mobile (cellular) networks.

With a network that is 99% digital and includes the latest in fixed-line, wireless and satellite communications, South Africa has the most developed telecommunications network in Africa.

The country harnessed all its resources to ensure the successful hosting of the world's biggest sport event, the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Over R1,5 billion was spent on event broadcasting and telecommunications. 


The Department of Communications' mandate is to create a favourable information and communications technology (ICT) environment, ensuring that South Africa has the capacity to advance its socio-economic development goals and support the renewal of Africa and the
building of a better world.

In March 2010, the Radio Frequency Spectrum Policy was approved. The policy seeks, among other things, to:

  • ensure the efficient use and management of the radio frequency spectrum
  • facilitate the achievement of key socio-economic objectives, such as
    increasing access to ICT
  • create an information society via wireless technologies
  • ensure access to broadband services and public service broadcasting content 

The National Broadband Policy [PDF] for South Africa was gazetted in July 2010. The policy seeks to address the availability, accessibility and affordability of broadband, build an information society and promote the uptake and usage of broadband. 

In May 2010, the Department of Communications hosted a community television
policy workshop to develop a broad framework to enable the successful launch of community TV in South Africa.

The Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) Policy [PDF] for South Africa was approved in
July 2008 and on 30 October 2008, the digital signal was switched on. The official switch-over to digital is expected to take place in 2013.

One of  the major impacts of the BDM Policy is its contribution to industrial growth in
South Africa. The implementation of the Set Top Boxes (STBs) Manufacturing Sector Development Strategy was finalised in 2010.

The focus will be on providing subsidies to poor TV-owning households to enable them to buy STBs.

Social Indicators


The Children's Act, 2005 [PDF] provides for the establishment of the National Child Protection Register that lists all persons found unsuitable to work with children.

In terms of this law, childcare facilities, including welfare organisations offering foster care and adoption, are able to check prospective employees, foster parents and adoptive parents against the register.

The Older Persons Act, 2006 [PDF] contains provisions to improve the lives of older South Africans. The main objectives of the Act are to:

maintain and promote the status, well-being, safety and
security of older persons
recognise the skills and wisdom of older persons
encourage older persons' participation in community activities to promote them as people.

The amendment of the Social Assistance Act, 2004 [PDF] saw men aged 63 to 64 for the first time qualifying and receiving socialassistance grants.The full implementation of the Act ensured that from 2010 men too receive social-assistance grants when they turn 60 years of age.

The Children's Amendment Act, 2007 [PDF] provides for:

the partial care of children
early childhood development (ECD)
further protection of children
prevention and early-intervention services
children in alternative care
foster care
child- and youth-care centres, shelters and drop-in centres
certain new offences relating to children
the plight of child-headed households
respect for parental rights by providing that no person may take or send a South African child out of the country without consent of parents or guardians
the discipline of children.

Amounts of grant per month


Grant type



State Old-Age Grant

R1 080

R1 140

Disability Grant

R1 080

R1 140

Child-Support Grant



Foster Child Grant



Care Dependency Grant

R1 080

R1 140

War-Veterans' Grant

R1 100

R1 160

Source: People's Guide to the Budget: English, 2011 [ PDF] 

Social assistance

Under the first pillar, the Social Assistance Programme covers close to 15 million South Africans, the majority (nine million), of whom are children who receive the Child-Support Grant (CSG). Other provisions include the: 

Old-Age Pension

Disability Grant 

Foster-Care Grant 

Care-Dependency Grant 

War-Veterans' Grant 

Social Relief of Distress

In 2010/11, government spent R89 billion on social grants in the face of increasing unemployment and the impact of 2009's recession. Expenditure on grants increased from 3,2% of the gross domestic product to 3,5%.

Government's most successful strategy in combating abject poverty and hunger is its Social Assistance Programme. The majority of the beneficiaries are children who receive the CSG. Eligibility for this grant is restricted to poor children, with most recipients being women.

Most of these recipients are usually mothers or anyone acting as the child's primary caregiver, which is critical because many children are cared for by relatives as a result of the impact of HIV and AIDS.

In 2010, the department extended the CSG to eligible children between the ages of 15 and 16, and will raise this in phases to include children who will turn 18 years old in 2012.

In the State of the Nation Address on 10 February 2011, President Zacob Zuma announced that social grants would be linked to economic activity and community development, to enable short-term beneficiaries to become self-supporting in the long run.

International Relations

Trade relations

Internationally,  open economies with an export base perform much better in terms of economic  growth than do closed economies. Increasingly, production is becoming globally
integrated, and South Africa forms a vital part of international supply chains.

Therefore, dismantling barriers to trade, especially those faced by South African exporters, is a critical component of any economic strategy that promotes sustainable growth.


Driven by regional economic development and integration imperatives, the South African Government continues to display its commitment to its neighbours and other members of the Southern African Development Community and regional blocs such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa through the Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) Programme.

The SDI Programme aims to promote trade and investment-led economic growth and
development. The programme methodology allows for the creation of a critical mass of integrated private-sector and infrastructure development necessary to kick-start a sustainable economic development process. It is focused on unlocking inherent economic potential in specific southern African locations, often along existing transport or development corridors. The SDI methodology emphasises the enhancement of the attractiveness of an area for investment by simultaneously advocating the removal of bureaucratic, administrative and institutional impediments to trade and investment.

South Africa continues to be an important source of investments in Africa.

The following areas have been prioritised:

  • infrastructure and logistics 
  • energy and information and communications technology 
  • water and waste management 
  • transport 
  • construction 
  • oil and gas infrastructure 
  • agribusiness 
  • mining
  • human-resource development. 

Relations with the North

South Africa continues to consolidate its economic and trade relations with the major  economies in the north as they remain important markets for goods, services, investment and technology. Trade relations with Europe, particularly with the European Union (EU),  are pivotal to South Africa's economic development. The Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement with the EU forms a substantial element of South Africa's reconstruction and development.

The United Kingdom (UK), Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland are among South
Africa's top-10 export destinations. Germany, the UK and France are among the top-10 countries from which South Africa's imports originate.

Since 2001, Germany has been South Africa's largest source of imports, showing annual
growth of 18,5% between 2007 and 2008. In 2009, Germany was overtaken by China,
which became the largest source of imports.

South-South trade
In pursuing relations with the South, it will be necessary to ensure an approach to trade that will strengthen South Africa's and Africa's efforts to develop an industrial base rather than the continuation of the current pattern of trade where exports of raw material are exchanged for manufactured goods.

Bilateral engagements

The Department of Trade and Industry has learned important lessons that will inform future bilateral engagements. Firstly, as compared to free trade areas, more focused preferential trade agreements allow for a more strategic integration process among developing countries. Secondly, it is increasingly apparent that tariffs are not always the most important barrier faced in foreign markets and hence negotiating outcomes must deal more effectively with non-tariff barriers. Thirdly, the department will need to give attention to forging sectoral cooperation agreements to support South Africa's industrial development objectives.

Multilateral engagements

South Africa is a strong proponent of multilateralism. The country has seen multilateralism as the necessary intergovernmental response to the challenges of globalisation and deepening interdependence among economies and societies around the world. Established as an outcome of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations in 1994, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), having established extensive multilateral rules over global trade, has moved to the centre of an evolving system of multilateral institutions charged with global economic governance.

While multilateral disciplines in the WTO reduce the scope for unilateral action by powerful nations, existing rules exhibit imbalances and inequities that prejudice the trade and development interests of developing countries.

South Africa's support for the launch of the Doha Round was premised on an assessment
that negotiations opened up a possibility to rebalance the global trading system more in favour of developing countries. South Africa's negotiating objectives aim to:

  • enhance market access for products of export interests to developing countries 
  • eliminate industrial country subsidies and support to inefficient producers,
    particularly in agriculture 
  • renegotiate rules that perpetuate imbalances in international trade ensure policy space for developing countries to pursue developmental objectives through meaningful implementation of the principle of special and differential treatment

Over the course of the Doha Round negotiations, the country has witnessed an erosion
of the developmental mandate. This has manifested in the gradual lowering of the ambition of developed countries to substantially reform agriculture trade, alongside growing pressure on emerging developing countries to open their markets for industrial products and  services.

News & Media


In August 2010, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) of South Africa reported that total newspaper performance declined by 163 000 copies between March and June 2010 when compared to the previous corresponding period.

Daily newspapers reflected a decline of 6,6% or 106 000 copies. Digital circulation, albeit off a small base, grew five-fold. In general, English titles declined more sharply than Afrikaans or vernacular titles.

Weekly newspapers declined by 6,6%, although the decline seemed to be slowing.

Weekend newspapers declined by 2,7%.

Community newspapers reflected a solid and stable performance, with growth mainly the result of new entrants. Free newspapers remained static.

Biggest weekly and daily newspapers

January to June 2010


Weekly papers



176 025

Sunday Times

461 433


245 704


260 897

Mail & Guardian

47 156

Sunday Sun

233 162

Daily papers



Daily Sun

484 588

The Times

124 541


125 902


91 772


Between March and June 2010, despite the uncertain economic climate, the number of new entrants was significant. Total ABC membership grew from 759 titles at 31 March 2010 to 794 at 30 June 2010, with 40 titles joining and five closures or resignations.

Total magazine circulation showed considerable growth, mainly the result of two significant Custom TV titles reporting.

The media

South Africa's Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of the press and other media. 


The independence of the public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), is guaranteed by legislation. The SABC is being corporatised and restructured to better fulfil its mandate.


The SABC's television network comprises four television channels - three of them free-to-air and the fourth pay-TV. Combined the free-to-air channels attract more than 17,5 million adult viewers daily, reaching 89% of the total adult TV-viewing population. 

In October 1998, the country's first privately owned free-to-air television channel,, started operations.

M-Net became South Africa's first private subscription television service when it launched in 1986. Today, it broadcasts its array of general entertainment and niche channels to subscribers in more than 50 countries across the African continent and adjacent Indian Ocean islands. 

MultiChoice Africa (MCA) was formed in 1995 to manage the subscriber services of its sister company, M-Net. It became the first African company on the continent to offer digital
satellite broadcasting. In July 2008, Multichoice launched high-definition television, the first in Africa. MultiChoice provides digital media entertainment, content and services to multiple devices, which include pay TV subscriber services to more than 1,5 million customers. 

MCA is 100% owned by the MIH Group, which is listed on the JSE Ltd, the Nasdaq in New York, and AEX in Amsterdam.

The pay television provider Top TV was launched in 2010.


The SABC's national radio network comprises 18 radio stations. Fifteen of these are dedicated specifically to public-service broadcasting and include 11 full spectrum stations, one in each of the official languages of South Africa, a cultural service for the Indian community broadcasting in English, a regional community station broadcasting in isiXhosa and English and a community station broadcasting in the !Xu and Khwe languages of the Khoisan people of the Northern Cape. The SABC boasts three stations in its commercial portfolio. They are:

Channel Africa Network reaches millions of listeners throughout Africa. Broadcasts are in English, French, Kiswahili, Portuguese, Chinyanja and Silozi. The network targets
audiences in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, and concentrates on providing programmes with African content.

SABC News provides news and current affairs services to both SABC radio and television. For its domestic coverage, SABC News has 13 editorial offices, while world news is provided by strategically placed news bureaus, foreign correspondents and international news agencies.

Channel Africa Network comprises four language services, reaching millions of listeners throughout Africa. Broadcasts are in English, French, Kiswahili, Portuguese, Chinyanja and
Silozi. The network targets audiences in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, and concentrates on providing programmes with African content.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has granted licences to the following private radio stations:

Community radio stations have a huge potential for the support of, among other things, cultural and educational information exchanges. These radio stations use all indigenous languages, ensuring that people receive information in languages they understand.



Tourism has been identified as one of the key economic sectors with excellent potential
for growth.

The Department of Tourism aims to fulfil the Government's role in creating conditions for responsible tourism growth and development by promoting and developing tourism, thereby increasing job- and entrepreneurial opportunities and encouraging the meaningful
participation of previously disadvantaged individuals.

The department also focuses on facilitating the growth of the tourism industry.

The tourism sector is continuing to grow. Direct and indirect tourism contribution
to the country's 2009 gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2,7% to R198,4
billion compared to 2008. This represents 7,4% of GDP. Figures for 2010 reflect
continued growth as well. Tourist arrivals from January to November 2010
totalled about 7,3 million arrivals.

South Africa has already secured 95 significant meetings and conferences between 2010
and 2016. In addition to this, the country has already put in bids for an
dditional 45 conferences for 2011 to 2020.


At a glance

In July 2010, the Department of Tourism together with South African Tourism (SAT)
and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa launched the draft National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS).

The strategy is a sector-wide plan and includes deliverables for all major role players in the tourism sector. Its core objectives are to grow the tourism sector's contribution to GDP, achieve transformation, provide people development and decent jobs and entrench a culture of travel among South Africans.

One of the highlights of the strategy is the establishment of the National Convention and Events Bureau, which will be responsible for business tourism and events marketing at national level.

The NTSS has identified the following medium-term actions and targets to be reached
by 2015:

  • to grow tourism's direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) from an estimated R64,5 billion or 3,2% of GDP in 2009 to R125 billion or 3,5% of GDP
  • to grow tourism's total (direct and indirect) contribution to GDP from an     estimated R173,9 billion or 8,7% of GDP in 2009 to R338,2 billion or 9,4% of GDP to increase the number of foreign arrivals from 9,9 million in 2009 to 13,5 million in 2015
  • to increase the number of direct jobs supported by the sector from an estimated 575 000 in 2009 to 800 000
  • to increase the number of total (direct and indirect) jobs supported by the sector from an estimated 1,4 million in 2009 to 1,9 million.

The final strategy was expected to be ready in 2011/12.

 Did you know?
 The number of South African adults who undertook domestic trips increased from some 14 million in 2008 to some 15 million in 2009. This represented about 48% of the population undertaking an average of 2,1 domestic trips in 2009. The number of trips aken, however, decreased from about 33 million in 2008 to 30 million in 2009. The average nominal spend per trip also declined from R780 in 2008 to R730 in 2009 as consumers tightened their belts. This is a continuation of a trend that started in 2007 as a result of economic pressure on consumers.

Public Holidays

2012 Public Holiday

1 January

New Year's Day

2 January**

Public holiday

21 March

Human Rights Day

6 April *

Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday)

9 April *

Family Day (Monday after Easter Sunday)

27 April

Freedom Day

1 May

Workers' Day

16 June

Youth Day

9 August

National Women's Day

24 September

Heritage Day

16 December

Day of Reconciliation

17 December**

Public holiday

25 December

Christmas Day

26 December

Day of Goodwill

* The dates on which Good Friday and Easter Sunday fall are determined according to the ecclesiastical moon. That varies each year but they fall at some point between late March and late April.

**The Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994 [PDF ]) determines whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following on it shall be a public holiday.

****Wednesday, 18 May 2011 has been declared a public holiday in terms of Section 2A of the Public Holidays Act, 1994, (Act No. 36 of 1994) to enable voters to participate in the local government elections 

21 March [Human Rights Day] 

The Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. 

The Constitution provides for the establishment of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The aim of the Commission is to promote respect for human rights, promote the protection, development and attainment of human rights, and to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in SA. The SAHRC was launched on 21 March 1996, 35 years after the fateful events of 21 March 1960 when demonstrators in Sharpeville were gunned down by police. 

The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 extended Government control over the movement of Africans to urban areas and abolished the use of the Pass Book (a document which Africans were required to carry on them to 'prove' that they were allowed to enter a 'white area') in favour of a reference book which had to be carried at all times by all Africans. 

Failure to produce the reference book on demand by the police, was a punishable offence. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed an anti-Pass campaign to start on 21 March 1960. All African men were to take part in the campaign without their passes and present themselves for arrest. 

Campaigners gathered at police stations in townships near Johannesburg where they were dispersed by police. At the Sharpeville police station a scuffle broke out. Part of a wire fence was trampled, allowing the crowd to move forward. The police opened fire, apparently without having been given a prior order to do so. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded. 

In apartheid South Africa this day became known as Sharpeville Day and although not part of the official calendar of public holidays the event was commemorated among anti-apartheid movements. 

27 April [Freedom Day] 

Freedom Day commemorates the first democratic elections held in South Africa on 27 April 1994. Read more about Freedom Day celebrations

1 May [Workers' Day] 

Workers' Day celebrates the role played by trade unions, the Communist Party and other labour movements in the struggle against apartheid. It originated from May Day, which was born from the industrial struggle for an eight-hour day. Read more about Worker's Day

16 June [Youth Day] 

In 1975 protests started in African schools after a directive from the then Bantu Education Department that Afrikaans had to be used on an equal basis with English as a language of instruction in secondary schools. The issue, however, was not so much the Afrikaans as the whole system of Bantu education which was characterised by separate schools and universities, poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately trained teachers. On 16 June 1976 more than 20 000 pupils from Soweto began a protest march. In the wake of clashes with the police, and the violence that ensued during the next few weeks, approximately 700 hundred people, many of them youths, were killed and property destroyed. 

Youth Day commemorates these events. 

9 August [National Women's Day] 

This day commemorates 9 August 1956 when women participated in a national march to petition against pass laws (legislation that required African persons to carry a document on them to 'prove' that they were allowed to enter a 'white area'). 

24 September [Heritage Day] 

"The day is one of our newly created public holidays and its significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live. 

"Within a broader social and political context, the day's events…are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict. 

"Heritage has defined as "that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation."

( Statement issued by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, 17 September 1996)

In an +mandela++heritage&Collection=empty&Collection=Speech96&SortField=T" target=_blankaddress marking Heritage Day in 1996, (former) President Mandela stated:

"When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation. 

We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy."

Government determines a theme for each year's celebrations. 

16 December [Day of Reconciliation] 

16 December is a day of great significance in South Africa because of two historical events that took place on that date. 

In apartheid South Africa 16 December was known as Day of the Vow, as the Voortrekkers in preparation for the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838 against the Zulus took a Vow before God that they would build a church and that they and their descendants would observe the day as a day of thanksgiving should they be granted victory. 

The second historical event that took place on 16 December was in 1961, when Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), was formed. Prior to its formation, the ANC had largely approached the fight against apartheid through passive resistance, but after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, where peaceful protestors were indiscriminately shot by police, passive resistance was no longer seen as an effective approach in bringing apartheid to an end. MK mostly performed acts of sabotage, but its effectiveness was hampered by organizational problems and the arrest of its leaders in 1963. Despite this, its formation was commemorated every year since 1961.

With the advent of democracy in South Africa 16 December retained its status as a public holiday. South Africa's first non-racial and democratic government was tasked with promoting reconciliation and national unity. One way in which it aimed to do this symbolically was to acknowledge the significance of the 16 December in both the Afrikaner and liberation struggle traditions and to rename this day as the Day of Reconciliation. 

On 16 December 1995, the Day of Reconciliation was celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa for the first time. 

Sources: Public Holidays Act, Act No 36 of 1994

Capital City

Tourism in the provinces

Western Cape

The Western Cape continues to be one of the destinations most favoured by foreigners.

Some attractions in Cape Town are:

  • the Company's Gardens
  • a boat trip to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in jail.

Table Mountain is a popular site for visitors and provides a majestic backdrop to the
vibrant and friendly "Mother City". The top of the mountain can be reached by an ultramodern cableway.

Newlands is home to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

Cape Point, part of the Table Mountain National Park, offers many drives, walks, picnic spots and a licensed restaurant. The park has a marine protected area encompassing almost 1 000 km2.

Hout Bay is well known for its colourful working harbour, seafood outlets,
round-the-bay trips to the nearby seal island, and a harbour-front emporium
that attracts many visitors. 

The wine routes outside Cape Town offer the chance to taste first-class wines in
arguably the most beautiful winelands in the world.

Superb accommodation is available in historic towns such as Paarl, Stellenbosch and
Franschhoek, as well as on many estates and farms.

Garden Route

The Garden Route has well-developed tourist infrastructure, spectacular scenery and a temperate climate, making the region popular all year round.

Not to be missed

  • The city of George is at the heart of the Garden Route and the mecca of golf in the southern Cape. It is home to the renowned Fancourt Country Club and Golf
  • Knysna, nestling on an estuary, is one of South Africa's favourite destinations,
    famous for its indigenous forests, lakes and beaches.  
  • Just 29 km from Oudtshoorn, the ostrich-feather capital of the world, at the start of the Cango Valley lie the Cango Caves, the only show caves in Africa that offer a choice of tours in various languages. The remarkable caves are a
    series of 30 spectacular subterranean limestone caverns. The cave system
    is 5,3 km long.
  •  Central Karoo 

The Central Karoo forms part of one of the world's most interesting and unique arid zones. This ancient, fossil-rich land, with the richest desert flora in the world, also has
the world's largest variety of succulents.

Key attractions

  • Matjiesfontein, a tiny railway village in the Karoo, offers tourists a peek into the
    splendour of colonial Victorian South Africa. 
  • Prince Albert is a well-preserved town, which nestles at the foot of the Swartberg mountains. The Fransie Pienaar Museum offers interesting cultural-history displays, a fossil room and an exhibit of gold-mining activities in the
    19th century. 
  • The museum in Beaufort West, birthplace of heart surgeon Prof. Chris Barnard, depicts the story of the world's first heart transplant. The Karoo National Park
    on the outskirts of the town is also worth a visit.

Read more on Western Cape tourism.

  •  Northern Cape

The Augrabies Falls National Park, with its magnificent falls pressing through a narrow rock ravine, remains the main attraction of the Northern Cape. Game drives reveal a variety of birdlife and animals such as klipspringer, steenbok, wild cats and otters.

Key attractions

  • The Kimberley Mine Museum is South Africa's largest full-scale open-air museum. Underground mine tours are a big attraction. The Freddy Tate Golf Museum at the Kimberley Golf Club was the first golfing museum in Africa. The Kimberley Ghost Trail has become a popular tourist attraction. 
  • The Robert Sobukwe House in Galeshewe was once the residence of Robert Sobukwe, an important figure in South African history and a major role player in the rise of African political consciousness. 
  • The Orange River Wine Cellars Coop in Upington offers wine-tastings and cellar tours. The South African Dried Fruit Cooperative is the second-largest in the
  • Moffat's Mission in Kuruman is a tranquil place, featuring the house of missionary Robert Moffat, whose son-in-law was explorer David Livingstone. 
  • Namaqualand,
         the land of the Nama and San people, puts on a spectacular show in spring
         when its floral splendour covers vast tracts of desert in a riot of
  • A cultural centre at Wildebeestkuil outside Kimberley features !Xun and Khwe artwork for sale and a tour of rock engravings by these indigenous people. 
  • The 100-m high, 9-km long and 2-km wide white sand dune at the Witsand Nature Reserve near Postmasburg should not be missed.

Read more on Northern Cape tourism.

  • Free State

In the capital, Bloemfontein, the Eerste Raadsaal (First Parliament Building) was
built in 1849 as a school and is the city's oldest surviving building that is still in its original condition. It is still used as the seat of the Provincial Legislature.

The National Women's Memorial is a sandstone obelisk, 36,5 m high, which
commemorates the women and children who died in concentration camps during the
Anglo-Boer/South African War.

Key attractions

  • Clarens is surrounded by spectacular scenery and boasts many art galleries. 
  • The King's Park Rose Garden in Bloemfontein boasts more than 4 000 rose bushes. 
  • The Vredefort Dome, a world heritage site, is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. It was formed about two billion years ago when a giant
    meteorite hit Earth.

Read more on the Free State tourism

  • Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is the only province in South Africa, and one of the few places on
Earth, where all seven biomes (major vegetation types) converge.

What to see and do

  • The rugged beauty of the Wild Coast, including Hole-inthe-Wall. 
  • Port Elizabeth, the sunshine capital of the Eastern Cape, with its friendly people and excellent beaches. 
  • The Red Location Museum of the People's Struggle in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth - winner of several international awards. 
  • The Tsitsikamma National Park (now part of the Garden Route Park), and
     forests and rivers in the area.


  • East London, South Africa's only river port, originally established as a supply port to serve the British military headquarters at King William's Town. 
  • The village of Qunu, where former President Mandela grew up and which now features the Nelson Mandela Museum. 
  • The world's highest bungee jump (216 m) at the Bloukrans Bridge over the Storms River.
  • Varied game reserves, including: 

Read more on Eastern Cape Tourism and Eastern Cape parks.


Limpopo is well endowed with cultural diversity, historical sites and tourist
attractions, and is an excellent destination for get-away-from-it-all luxury
holidays in the bush.

Not to be missed

  • The Mokopane vicinity has several nature reserves. The Arend Dieperink Museum offers a fine cultural-historical collection, while the Makapan caves are famous for their fossils. The Makapan Valley is the only cultural-heritage site of its kind. It reflects the history of the Ndebele people and resistance wars dating back 151 years. The fossil hominid sites of Sterkfontein include Makapan Valley. 
  • With its outstanding game reserves, the Thabazimbi district is one of the fastest-growing ecotourism areas in South Africa.
  • Bela-Bela is well known among South Africans, and increasingly foreigners, for its hot-water springs, fun water slides and scenery. 
  • The Waterberg mountain range is rich in indigenous trees, streams, springs, wetlands, birdlife and dramatic vistas. 
  • The Modjadji Nature Reserve, north of Tzaneen, is named after the       legendary Rain Queen, Modjadji, who inspired Rider Haggard's She
  • Phalaborwa has one of the country's top-rated golf courses - just watch out for
    animals on the fairways. 
  • The Schoemansdal Voortrekker Town and Museum, a short drive west of Makhado, are built on the site of an original Voortrekker village and depict their
    lifestyle in the mid-18th century. 
  • The Big Tree in the Mutale district is one of the largest known baobabs in southern Africa.

Read more on Limpopo tourism and parks

  • North West

The province abounds with attractions, including wild animals and fun nights at the
famous Sun City and Lost City resorts, which offer, among other things, gambling, golf and an artificial sea.

Key attractions

  • The Historic Route of Mafikeng includes the town of Mafikeng, which was besieged by the Boers during the Anglo-Boer/South African War. 
  • The Groot Marico region, mampoer (moonshine) country, is associated with author Herman Charles Bosman. 
  • The Hartbeespoort Dam and surrounds are popular for weekend outings, yachting and golf. 
  • The Taung Skull Fossil Site is an extension of the Sterkfontein hominid sites. The site marks the place where the celebrated Taung skull - a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus - was found in 1924. 
  • Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa's largest game reserves, is home to 66 large mammal species, including the Big Five, and about 300 resident and migrant bird species.

More on North West tourism.

  • Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga - the place where the sun rises - lies in the north-eastern part of South
Africa, bordered by Mozambique to the east and the Kingdom of Swaziland to the
south-east. Scenic beauty and wildlife are abundant.

Tourist attractions

  • Historical sites and villages, old wagon routes and monuments mark the lives of the characters who came to Mpumalanga seeking their fortune. The town of      Pilgrim's Rest is a living monument reflecting the region's gold-fever period. 
  • Within the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, the Bourke's Luck potholes were formed by river erosion and the action of flood water. The spectacular Blyde River Canyon is a 26-km long gorge carved out of the face of the escarpment. It is the world's third-largest canyon and the only green canyon. 
  • The region includes the southern section of the Kruger National Park, which draws a million visitors yearly.
  • An annual frog-watching festival is held at Chrissiesmeer, South Africa's largest
    freshwater lake. 
  • Dullstroom is popular with trout- and fly-fishing enthusiasts.

Read more on Mpumalanga tourism.

  • Gauteng

Gauteng, the economic heart of southern Africa, offers a vibrant business environment
and many tourist attractions, including a rainbow of ecological and cultural diversity.

Key attractions

  • The Vaal Dam covers some 300 km2 and is a popular venue for water sport.
     Numerous resorts line the shore. The dam is also popular with birders and
  • The Sterkfontein caves near Krugersdorp are the site of the discovery of the
     skull of the famous Mrs Ples, an estimated 2,5-million-year-old hominid
     fossil; and Little Foot, an almost complete hominid skeleton of more than
      3,3 million years old. 
  • There is a ring of hills a kilometre in diameter and 100 m high just 40 km north of Pretoria. These hills are the walls of the Tswaing Meteorite Crater, left by an asteroid 200 000 years ago. 
  • The Constitution Hill  Precinct is set to become one of South Africa's most popular landmarks. 
  • The old mining town of Cullinan is where the world's biggest diamond, the 3 106-carat Cullinan diamond, was found.
  • A guided tour of Soweto leaves a lasting impression of this vast community's life and struggle against apartheid. 
  • The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg tells the story of the legacy of apartheid through photographs, film and artefacts. 
  • The Union Buildings in Pretoria was the venue for the inauguration of presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.

Read more on Gauteng tourism.

  • KwaZulu-Natal

Also known as the Zulu Kingdom, KwaZulu-Natal is a combination of natural wonders,
fascinating culture and ultramodern facilities.

Durban's Golden Mile skirts the main beaches of the Indian Ocean. Drawcards include an
amusement centre, paddling pools, paved walkways and fountains.

Enticing attractions

  • The uShaka Marine World theme park comprises an oceanarium, dolphinarium and oceanographic research institute situated on Durban's Point. 
  • Spot dolphins or laze the days away on the coastline between the Umdloti and Tugela rivers - the Dolphin Coast. 
  • The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, one of the largest game parks in South Africa, is home to the Big Five, as well as cheetah and wild dogs.
  • The eMakhosini Valley, birthplace of King Shaka, and the Valley of Zulu Kings give visitors insight into the Zulu nation's history and culture. 
  • The Royal Natal National Park offers many scenic highlights, including the Amphitheatre, Mont-aux-Sources and the Tugela falls. 
  • The Battlefields Route in northern KwaZulu-Natal has the highest concentration of battlefields and related military sites in South Africa. 
  • Every year around June or July, millions of sardines leave their home on the Agulhas banks and move up to the coast of Mozambique. Thousands of dolphins, Cape gannets, sharks and game fish follow the "sardine run"

Read more about KwaZulu-Natal tourism.

Major Tourist Attractions

Planning Your Visit

Just a few of the attractions that make South Africa an exceptional destination:

  • breathtaking Cape Town with its laid-back, welcoming attitude and vibrant nightlife, nestling at the foot of Table Mountain 
  • Cape Point 
  • the delights of Sun City and the Lost City, and many other first-rate casino resorts walking in the spectacular Drakensberg mountains  
  • the chance to learn how to say "hello" in the country's 11 official languages 
  • the country's Blue Flag beaches 
  • the variety of national parks and transfrontier conservation areas 
  • eight world heritage sites 
  • the lilac-breasted roller, the blue crane and the other 900 bird species to be spotted in southern Africa 
  • the Big Five and other wild animals found in the many parks and game reserves 
  • the strange halfmens (half-human) and the exotic baobab, just some of South Africa's many amazing trees and plants 
  • battlefields on which imperial Britain fought Zulus, Xhosas and Boers 
  • the dazzling floral displays which carpet Namaqualand every year 
  • the mountains, forests and beaches of the Garden Route 
  • the silence and solitude of the Karoo's wide-open spaces 
  • country hospitality (and home cooking) in hundreds of picturesque towns and villages across South Africa 
  • the endless golden beaches of the Eastern Cape 
  • fly-fishing in stunning scenery with first-class accommodation 
  • fabulous golf courses that produced the likes of Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Louis Oosthuizen 
  • an array of cultural villages, arts festivals, rock paintings and museums 
  • the adrenaline rush of the many adventure-tourism opportunities available in the country.

Foreign visitors should check before arriving whether a visa is required. Visas are free of charge.

  • Visitors must have at least one blank page in their passports.
  • Tourists must have return or onward tickets.
  • Visitors from yellow-fever areas must have proof of inoculation.
  • Foreign tourists may have their value-added tax refunded upon departure.
  • For safety, emergency and other information, tourists can phone 083 123 2345 (24 hours a day) when they are in South Africa.



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Airline and Local Transport

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Trade Agreements within IORA

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Chamber of Commerce

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Trade Legislations

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Business Incentives in South Africa

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Investment Opportunities in South Africa

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List of Private & Public companies

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Conference & Exhibition Facilities

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Educational Opportunities

The Bill of Rights, contained in the Constitution, 1996 stipulates that everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education and further education, which the State, through reasonable measures, must progressively make available and accessible.

Education continues to receive the biggest share of the country's budget with an allocation of R165 billion to the departments of basic education and of higher education and training for 2010/11, R17 billion more than in 2009/10.

In February 2010, President Jacob Zuma announced new measures to boost the country's education system. From 2010, all grade three, six and a sample of grade nine learners write annual national assessments that are independently moderated. In 2011, more than 19 000 schools participated.

At the July 2010 Cabinet Lekgotla, government announced plans to get more than 200 000 children between the ages of seven and 15 enrolled in school by 2014 by increasing the number of no-fee schools, while widening feeding schemes. There is also a drive to ensure that teachers are in class and teaching for the allocated school time.

In 2009, there were 12 million learners who were taught by 386 587 teachers in 24 693 public schools; 386 098 learners taught by 24 557 teachers in 1 174 private schools; 646 491 learners were enrolled in 13 736 early childhood development programmes; 620 223 children were in Grade 0; and 5,2 million learners were in 14 029 schools where no schools fees were charged.

Formal education in South Africa is categorised according to three levels:

General Education and Training
Further Education and Training (FET)
and Higher Education (HE) structures

Statutory bodies include the:

Council of Education Ministers
Heads of the Education Department's Committee
General and FET Quality Assurance Council
South African Qualifications Authority
Council on Higher Education
South African Council for Educators
National Board for FET
Education Labour Relations Council
National Student Financial Aid Scheme

Over the last 17 years, government has doubled investment in education. Access to primary and secondary schooling has reached near universal enrolment figures. A total of 98% of children from seven to 15 years are enrolled in schools; 88% are six-year olds, and 70% are children aged four and five in early childhood development centres.

Basic education

The Department of Basic Education has identified the following targets to be achieved by 2014:

the number of Grade 12 learners who pass the national examinations and qualify to enter a Bachelor's programme at a university must increase from 105 000 to 175 000

the number of Grade 12 learners who pass Mathematics and Physical Science must total 225 000 and 165 000 respectively

the percentage of learners in grades three, six and nine in public schools who obtain the minimum acceptable mark in the national assessments for Language and Mathematics (or Numeracy) must improve from between 27% and 38% to at least 60%.

all children should have participated in a Grade R programme before entering Grade One and at least 37% of children from birth to five years should have participated in an early childhood development programme. In 2009, more than 785 000 learners had access to a Grade R programme.

Starting from the 2011 academic year, government will introduce free education for the poor at undergraduate level. Students in Further Education and Training colleges who qualify for financial aid will not pay academic fees.

This will assist in increasing access to the colleges for students from poor families as well as help the country to meet its needs for intermediate and technical skills.

The national pass rate for the matric Class of 2010 was 67,8%, representing an impressive increase of 7,2% on the 2009 results (60,6%).

In May 2010, the 1Goal: Education for All Campaign was launched as a 2010 World Cup initiative. Several organisations such as FIFA and famous personalities are part of the campaign.

The 1Goal Campaign is a coalition of 100 organisations from 100 countries established in 2009 to raise awareness about the 72 million children around the world who are said to have no access to quality basic education. The initiative aims to get all children across the world to school by 2015.


Schooling is compulsory between the ages of seven and 15. All learners are guaranteed access to quality learning. There are two types of schools: independent (private) and public. At public schools, parents vote on the level of school fees. Poor parents are given exemption or reductions. 

Curriculum development

Schooling 2025 is the new action plan by government to improve the education system in schools. It aims to improve all aspects of education such as teacher recruitment, learner enrolment, school funding, mass literacy and numeracy and overall quality of education. 

The outcomes-based education system will be revised, improved and renamed Schooling 2025. The Department of Basic Education is finalising a comprehensive

turnaround plan for teaching in schools called Action Plan 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025 [PDF]

The new curriculum gives learners the option of learning in their mother tongues for the first three years of their schooling. English will still be taught, but will not replace the mother tongue or home language in the early grades. Each grade will have its own programme of study. This will ease the workload on teachers and allow learners to focus on specific projects and assessments. 

The number of subjects will also be reduced from eight to six for learners in the intermediate phase. This means that for learners in grades four to six, Technology will be combined with Science; Arts and Culture will be combined with Life Orientation; and Economic and Management Sciences will only be taught to learners from Grade Seven.

From 2011, learners' end-of-year results are calculated as follows:

grades R to three will be based on 100% continuous assessment of work done throughout the year
grades four to six will be based on 75% continuous assessment and 25% year-end exam results
grades seven to nine will be based on 40% continuous assessment and 60% year-end exam results
grades 10 to 12 will be based on 25% continuous assessment and 75% year-end exam results.

The National School Nutrition Programme is one of the most important components of the Government's Programme of Action. It was specifically assigned the responsibility of addressing children's ability to learn by providing them with nutritious meals.

In 2009/10, the programme reached 7 125 273 learners in the 20 345 schools nationally that provided learners with cooked meals five days a week. Some R83 147 million was transferred to provincial departments to procure equipment to extend the programme to quintile two secondary schools by April 2010.

For the 2010/11 financial year, the programme strengthened monitoring, research, programme advocacy and partnerships to ensure quality meals.

Further Education and Training (FET)

Nearly 70% of all South Africans are under the age of 35. Government, through the Department of Higher Education and Training, developed a strategy to increase the ratio of young people that are in education, employment or training by 2014/15. The aim of this strategy is to strengthen the capacity of the education and training system to provide pivotal programmes to a growing number of young post-school learners as well as adults at turning points in their careers. 

Pivotal programmes are professional, vocational, technical and academic learning programmes, which meet critical needs for economic growth and social development. These programmes generally combine course work at universities, universities of technology or colleges with structured learning at work - through, among other things, professional placements, work-integrated learning, apprenticeships, learnerships and internships.

The FET sector with its 50 colleges and 263 campuses nationally is the primary site for skills-development training. The FET college system carries about 220 000 students in the public colleges and less than 100 000 in private colleges.

Higher Education (HE)

The HE budget for 2010/11 was R8,4 billion. Universities received R17,5 billion and R3,8 billion was allocated for FET colleges. In 2010, 98% of the HE budget was allocated for transfer to institutions. 

Government aims to increase access to HE to the poor by, among other things, converting loans into bursaries for qualifying final-year students. 

The HE landscape consists of the following institutions:

University of the Witwatersrand
University of Cape Town
University of Stellenbosch
Rhodes University
University of the Western Cape
University of Zululand
University of Venda
University of KwaZulu-Natal
University of the Free State
North West University
University of Pretoria
University of South Africa
Tshwane University of Technology
Durban Institute of Technology
Central University of Technology
Mangosuthu Technikon
University of Johannesburg
University of Limpopo
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
University of Fort Hare
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Vaal University of Technology
Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science
National Institute for HE, Northern Cape
National Institute for HE, Mpumalanga.

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