South Africa's Economic & Social Problems

South Africa is currently experiencing a number of economic and social problems. Many of these problems are due to the policy of apartheid which dominated South African politics during the past four decades. This policy, which called for racial segregation, resulted in international disapproval and economic sanctions during the 1980's. Today, however, South Africa is facing the hope of a better future because of important changes which are taking place in the political environment. In 1990, President F. W. De Klerk paved the way toward increased democracy in his country when he freed Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress (ANC), from prison. In December 1991, De Klerk's National Party began a series of negotiations with the ANC and other parties. The purpose of these negotiations, known as the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), was to lead the nation toward free elections and multiracial representation in government. In June 1993, the CODESA talks resulted in a date being set for South Africa's first free elections: 27 April 1994. This decision has been called an "historic agreement" because it represents an "irreversible step forward" to allowing all South African citizens the right to vote for their own government (MacLeod, 14 June 1993, p. 34).

The conflicts which exist in South Africa today have their roots in the earliest periods of the nation's history. In the seventeenth century, Afrikaners of Dutch descent began to establi



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