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Aparteid and why South Africa’s white population has declined every year over the past decade.

Before we can look at the history of the apartheid period and delve into why we think South Africa will never get over it and also why South Africa’s white population is slowly decreasing, it is necessary to understand what apartheid was and how it affected people, especially the black community.

What was apartheid?

South Africa was colonized by the English and Dutch in the seventeenth century. English domination of the Dutch descendents (known as Boers or Afrikaners) resulted in the Dutch establishing the new colonies of Orange Free State and Transvaal. The discovery of diamonds in these lands around 1900 resulted in an English invasion which sparked the Boer War. Following independence from England, an uneasy power-sharing between the two groups held sway until the 1940’s, when the Afrikaner National Party was able to gain a strong majority. Strategists in the National Party invented apartheid as a means to cement their control over the economic and social system. Initially, aim of the apartheid was to maintain white domination while extending racial separation. Starting in the 60’s, a plan of “Grand Apartheid” was executed, emphasising territorial separation and police repression.

Translated from the Afrikaans meaning ‘apartness’, apartheid was the ideology supported by the National Party (NP) government and was introduced in South Africa in 1948. Apartheid called for the separate development of the different racial groups in South Africa. On paper it appeared to call for equal development and freedom of cultural expression, but the way it was implemented made this impossible. Apartheid made laws forced the different racial groups to live separately and develop separately, and grossly unequally too. It tried to stop all inter-marriage and social integration between racial groups. During apartheid, to have a friendship with someone of a different race generally brought suspicion upon you, or worse. More than this, apartheid was a social system which severely disadvantaged the majority of the population, simply because they did not share the skin colour of the rulers. Many were kept just above destitution because they were ‘non-white’.


Apartheid today

Nelson Mandela‘s electoral victory in 1994 signified the end of apartheid in South Africa, a system of widespread racially-based segregation to enforce almost complete separation of different races in South Africa. Under the apartheid system, South Africans were classified into four different races: White, Black, Coloured, and Indian/Asian, with about 80% of the South African population classified as Black, 9% as White, 9% as Coloured, and 2% as Indian/Asian. Today

South Africa’s white population has declined every year over the past decade

– Stats South Africa

According StatsSA’s data shows continuing theme among the country’s white population, namely a steady decline over the past decade. The country ‘lost’ over 22,250 in2016, to an estimated 4.49 million in 2017.

There were 4.52 million white South Africans in 2016, as previously reported by Stats SA.

The data showed a big decline in the number of young white adults, while the only demographic showing any growth was recorded in the ageing population – those people aged 70 and older.

Emigration experts have reported increases in the number of South Africans inquiring about immigrating to countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the US, and even Canada. The main reasons cited include financial and political concerns, high crime rates, concern about the standard of education, and BEE requirements in doing business

The data shows that the country’s white population has declined from 4.59 million in 2011, to 4.52 million in 2016 – a loss of 70,147 people (-1.5%).

By comparison, the black African population has increased by nearly four million over the same period – from 41 million, to 44.9 million people (+9.5%). The Stats in Brief report breaks down the change in population groups every year over the past 10 years, showing that the annual decline of the white population has increased since 2006, from losing 0.3% of the population between 2005 to 2006, to a decline of 0.45% between 2015 and 2016.

Why black people won’t just get over it Apartheid?

With many recent stories about the black community slaughtering a sheep at a beach in Cape Town, stories of the black community wanting to “Take back the Land”, Instances where white superiority is still evident in the workplace and many more incidents that happen all over South Africa, it suggests that South Africa is not really over Aparteid and that that will not happen until the black community has “the land back”. Many questions still remain regarding what the black community will do with the land once they have it back? will they give 50% of that land back to the white capitalists in order to develop it and then financially benefit from it? will they build shacks to accommodate big families? will they come together and develop the land? that question still remains but from the development the country has seen in terms of the black economy in the past decade makes us look forward to seeing what will happen to this “land”

Looking at the decline of white people in South Africa, it seems black people are winning their fight without realising it. With more than 20 years into democracy, the question of wether black South Africans have made any social-economic progress remains highly contested.

People like Mohammad Amir Anwar, and political parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema, argue that the economy is still controlled by whites – and that blacks still have no ownership or control.

These and other like-minded people in politics, academia, the media, and the public in general, believe that black people have not benefited from South Africa’s post-1994 economy. But when one takes an objective look at the statistics, it’s crystal clear that remarkable progress has been made since 1994.

The South Africa we knew 10 years ago and the one we see today is extremely different in colour.

More on the history of Apartheid here.

Read: Here’s what an expert says is causing white South Africans to leave the country

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