AU Watch

South Africa

Brief Overview

South Africa’s political transition is known as one of the most remarkable political feats of the past century. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been driving the policy agenda since 1994. In August 2016 the country held the most competitive local government election since 1994 in which the ANC-lost majority support in four of the metropolitan cities. Political parties negotiated coalition deals that saw the ANC unseated in the cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay. The latest general elections were held in May 2019.

The South African economy grew by 1.3% in 2017 and 0.8% in 2018. The World Bank projects 2019 growth at 1.3%, accelerating further to 1.7% in 2020. Given population growth, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita growth has been close to nil since 2014, leaving little room to reduce poverty. Commodity prices remain important for South Africa, a major exporter of minerals and importer of oil. Strengthening investment, including foreign direct investment, will be critical to propel growth and create jobs.

Development challenges

South Africa has made considerable strides toward improving the wellbeing of its citizens since its transition to democracy in the mid-1990s, but progress is slowing. Based on the international poverty line of $1.90 per day, (2011 Purchasing Power Parity, exchange rates), 18.8% of South Africans were poor in 2015, following a decline from 33.8% in 1996. Factors driving this progress include, among others, real income growth, expansion of social safety nets, access to basic services including subsidized housing credit. Yet progress towards poverty reduction has slowed in recent years, with the $1.90 per day poverty rate increasing from 16.8% to 18.8% between 2011 and 2015. This is partly due to structural challenges and weak growth since the global financial crisis of 2008, but increasingly too by labor market developments that demand skills that the country’s poor currently lack. Unemployment remains a key challenge, standing at 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019. The unemployment rate is even higher among youths, at around 55.2%.

South Africa remains a dual economy with one of the highest inequality rates in the world, with a consumption expenditure Gini coefficient of 0.63 in 2015. Inequality has been persistent, having increased from 0.61 in 1996. High inequality is perpetuated by a legacy of exclusion and the nature of economic growth, which is not pro-poor and does not generate sufficient jobs. Inequality in wealth is even higher: the richest 10% of the population held around 71% of net wealth in 2015, while the bottom 60% held 7% of the net wealth. Furthermore, intergenerational mobility is low meaning inequalities are passed down from generation to generation with little change in inequality over time. Not only does South Africa lag its peers on level of inequality and poverty, it lags on the inclusiveness of consumption growth.

Republic of South Africa
Administrative capital: Pretoria
Population: 50.7 million

Area: 1.22 million sq km (470,693 sq miles)

Major languages: 11 official languages including English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Setswana, Xhosa and Zulu

Religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs

Life expectancy: 53 years (men), 54 years (women)

Currency: Rand

UN, World Bank

President: Cyril Ramaphosa

Important Addresses and Contacts

Physical Contacts of the Presidency

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Physical Contacts of the Prime Minister’s Office

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Physical Contacts of the National Assembly

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Physical Contacts of the Ministry of Interior

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Physical Contacts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Physical Contacts of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs

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Physical Contacts of the National Human Rights Commission

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Physical Contacts of the Police

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Physical Contacts of the Military

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Important Information of Key Human Rights Issues in South Africa

Number Prisons in South Africa
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Police Stations in South Africa

Corruption in South Africa

 

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(1) Freedom of the Press

 

(2) Human Rights Defenders Issues

 

(3) Impunity

Membership of African Regional Organisations

 

African Union (AU)

Joined the OAU in 

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Key Regional Human Rights & Governance InstrumentsSigned and Ratified

 

  1. African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

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2.Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

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  1. Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights

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4.Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights

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  1. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

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  1. African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption

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  1. African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

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  1. Statute of the African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL)

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  1. OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa

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  1. African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention)

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  1. Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment

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  1. African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

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  1. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons

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  1. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa

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