Tribute: President Obama drew rapturous applause yesterday at the funeral of Nelson Mandela in Soweto. *AFP photo
Tribute: President Obama drew rapturous applause yesterday at the funeral of Nelson Mandela in Soweto. *AFP photo
As the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela and reflects on the peacemaker’s legacy, what is next for South Africa?

Mandela became the country’s first black president in 1994 (he stepped down in 1999) and made great changes in its society, advancing unity and social justice through the ‘Rainbow Nation’.

But how far has South Africa progressed, and what still needs to be done? Amanda Dale takes a look.

How’s the economy?

When the ANC came to power in 1994, it inherited an economy blighted by years of international sanctions and on the verge of bankruptcy.

Mandela encouraged multinational companies to invest in South Africa and focused on building a new image of the country around the world.

His deputy Thabo Mbeki managed the day-to-day business of government.

Inflation dropped from 14 per cent pre-1994 to five per cent within 10 years.

The budget deficit fell from eight per cent in 1997 to 1.5 per cent in 2004.

Interest rates also fell and exports grew. The economy has grown by an average 3.2 per cent per year since 1994, compared with 1.6 per cent before that date.

What about infrastructure?

It remains neglected and in need of investment.

Corruption in the ANC government also became a problem.

Although ‘Black Economic Empowerment (BEE)’ aimed to give black South Africans a stake in the nation’s industries, in the first 10 years of government, this lined the pockets of a well-connected elite.

Critics say although policies assisted an emerging black middle class, they failed to improve the general economic situation for the population.

And jobs?

Apartheid created mass unemployment among blacks, and half of the under-25 population remains out of work.

The unemployment rate among blacks actually worsened between 1994-2003.

The gap between the rich and the poor is among the highest in the world. 

A white household in 2013 earns six times more than a black one.

Although blacks number 80 per cent of the population, almost one in three is unemployed, compared with one in 20 whites.

It is estimated that a quarter of South Africa’s population is unemployed and has to survive on less than US $1.25 a day.

Did housing improve?

The ANC government in 1994 faced a mass housing shortage and the problems of slums. Millions of people have gained access to electricity and running water but slums remain a problem, sparking protests by township residents over poor living conditions in 2009. 

What about AIDS?

The biggest health crisis the nation faces is the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Critics attribute to the ANC’s failure to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic early on. Mandela’s successor, former president Thabo Mbeki, was criticized for a culture of denial about the virus. South Africa has the second-highest number of HIV/AIDS patients in the world, with one in seven people infected. 

Free anti-retroviral drugs are available but in 2007, only 28 per cent of people with advanced stages of the disease were receiving them, according to reports.

And crime?

Sexual violence in South Africa is among the highest in the world, with an estimated 500,000 rapes taking place every year. Up to 50 people are murdered each day.

Critics say the criminal justice system is blighted by inefficiency and

Sources: BBC News, Wikipedia and The Guardian (UK)