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Social and Economic Development in South Africa

by Corey Spengler

South Africa has a unique history of racial oppression which occurred under the period known as Apartheid which has largely shaped the country into what it is today. Apartheid being racial segregation which was entrenched by harsh policies of segregation. The country has a great deal of poverty which is still largely seen along racial lines with huge African squatter and informal settlements. However even though this poverty is seen to be largely among the previously disadvantaged group there is growing poverty within the white community as well. Poverty being the inability to monetarily look after oneself and integrate as full members of society. At a UN Conference in Nairobi, Kenya on “the prevention of incitement to hatred on the grounds of nationality, race and religion,” in April 2011 it was mentioned that “racial tension and intolerance in South Africa are still problems that require attention.” The inequalities that still exist in South Africa have seen themselves acted out in our society as seen by both the xenophobic attacks as well as the racial incidents that have taken place. Racism being the belief that one race is better than another while xenophobia is the hatred of foreigners.

In 2000 South Africa adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the Millennium Summit hosted by the United Nations (UN) with a deadline of 2015, these goals are:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

South Africa has worked in order to achieve these goals in line with the social and economic improvement of the country. While the major challenges within South Africa are racial, HIV/AIDs infections and crime. The economy has been growing at 5% a year over the past few years but is still experiencing poverty and unemployment on large scales.

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