HIV AIDS Epidemic in South Africa

South Africa has the world’s largest HIV/AIDs epidemic. The government has issued numerous HIV prevention programs in an effort to educate the public, reduce the annual number of new infections, and, eventually, eliminate the disease.

History of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in South Africa

South Africa’s first reported cases of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, emerged in 1982 among homosexual men amidst Apartheid. Due to the political upheaval and repression by the government during Apartheid, HIV was ignored, thus allowing the virus to spread rapidly throughout the homosexual community among men. HIV was almost exclusively diagnosed in gay men until 1987 when there was a sudden increase in women being infected with the virus. The opportunistic microbial infection was credited with being spread as a result of poverty, limited primary health care, lack of education, and sexual exploitation and violence against women. It was not until the early 2000’s that the government recognized HIV/AIDs as a major issue after HIV rates with pregnant women soared from 1 percent in 1990 to over 30 percent by the beginning of the next decade.

Prevalence of HIV/AIDs Epidemic in South Africa

In 2018, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa rose to an estimate of 7.1 million South Africans affected by the disease, with 240,000 new diagnoses, and 71,000 AIDS-related illnesses. The disease is most prevalent among marginalized groups: sex workers account for 57.7 percent of HIV cases, gay men at 26.8 percent, and drug addicts at 1.3 percent. Additionally, there is an estimate of 280,000 children who have contracted the disease from their mothers; HIV prevalence is four times greater in women and young girls due to gender-based violence and transgender women are twice as likely to be infected by the virus than gay men.

Solutions to the Epidemic

Despite the initial negligence to the HIV/AIDs epidemic of South Africa from the government, South Africa aims to reduce the number of new infections to under 100,000 by 2022. The government has made great efforts to resolve the issue by executing awareness campaigns, encouraging HIV testing, distributing condoms, and implementing HIV prevention programs. In 2018, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa rose to an estimate of 7.1 million South Africans affected by the disease. There have been large improvements in the choice of antiretroviral medicines and the widespread accessibility of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission, or PMTCT, program. As of 2016, mother-to-child transmission rates have fallen from 3.6 percent to 1.5 percent between 2011 to 2015, meaning the country is on track to completely eliminating MTCT.

Due to the 2010 national HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC), campaign and the 2013 HTC Revitalisation Strategy—which focused on encouraging people from the private sector, rural areas, and higher education to test—more than 10 million people in South Africa get tested for HIV every year.

As of 2016, only 5 percent of South African schools provided sex education, but the government has committed to increasing this number to over 50 percent by 2022—especially in high-risk areas. The government has adopted UNAIDS 90-90-90 strategy: By 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. Thus far, 90 percent of South African’s know their HIV status, 68 percent are on treatment, and 87 percent are virally suppressed. Factually, South Africa has made significant progress in reducing HIV amongst the population, and they are on track to eliminate the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa.

– Arielle Pugh
Photo: Wikimedia

, Autism Treatment in South Africa
Autism is a developmental disorder, which typically develops at a young age and can greatly impair one’s social skills. People with autism often have difficulties communicating, differentiating between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and directly interacting with others. There is a spectrum associated with the disorder that correlates with the severity of a person’s behavior; ranging from high functioning and extremely intelligent to low functioning and nonverbal. Autism affects people regardless of where they live, their ethnic background or their socioeconomic class. While it is approximated that only 1 to 2 percent of the population has this developmental disorder, autism treatment in South Africa is becoming increasingly prevalent as the rate of diagnosis is rising.

Autism in South Africa

Within the secluded, underdeveloped regions of South Africa, medical care can often be difficult to come by, including diagnoses. However, it has been estimated that the diagnosis of developmental disabilities, including autism, has increased 70 percent in South Africa in less than 30 years. This is in direct correlation with medical care becoming more readily available in areas where it had never been before.

The disparities within the health care system are even more notable in populations that are already vulnerable, which includes the majority of the communities in South Africa. Young children on the spectrum rarely receive support or services largely due to a lack of access.

Autism Treatment in South Africa

Research has shown that occupational and speech therapy services are integral for autistic individuals. As a result, autism treatment programs have begun popping up and are providing different modes of treatment. These include advocating for children with the disorder to receive Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and other methods that promote inclusivity. The following organizations are all committed to autism treatment in South Africa.

  1. The Centre for Autism Research in Africa: The leading autism clinical research program in South Africa, this center is based in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town. The center’s research is founded upon three basic principles: clinical research through screenings and diagnosis, teaching and training of those diagnosed and their families as well as the community and advocating for the rights of those with autism. Recognizing the crucial role technology can play in improving the lives of the underprivileged autistic community in South Africa, the center uses technology, including stimming apps and noise-canceling headphones, in its work.
  2. The Star Academy: The Star Academy, alternately known as the Centre for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc, is an exemplary institution that supports individuals with autism and their families. Centers that offer this support are located throughout South Africa, in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. Star Academy’s motto is “Recovery is Possible,” and while the organization don’t promote the concept that autism is reversible, significant gains are very possible. Research has shown that those who start intervention at a younger age are able to benefit most from intensive applied behavior analysis therapy, one of the most common treatments for autism. The organization also incorporates PROMPT Instruction therapy, which is a holistic approach that focuses on developing or regulating speech. These improvements are most evident through increased academic performances, and in some cases, have resulted in physicians diagnosing children as no longer being on the spectrum.
  3. Autism South Africa: Autism South Africa is another organization that is greatly benefiting the autistic community. Adding a different perspective to autism treatment in South Africa, Autism South Africa promotes the diversity that every autistic child brings to the community and works to empower them. The organization also has a strong partnership with the Centre for Autism Research in Africa, which provides data on autism in the country. The four pillars of the organization are parent empowerment, advocacy, lobbying and training. Each step of the diagnosis has a holistic focus, and the organization is working to ensure the autistic population has a bright future.

With autism diagnosis being on the rise in many underdeveloped communities, it is encouraging to see organizations and programs that are focused on assisting the developmentally challenged through a variety of methods. Moving forward, autism treatment in South Africa must continue to be a priority for these organizations and others.

Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Aquaponics in South Africa

Aquaponics is an emerging, innovative and resilient method to raise both fish and vegetables concurrently without soil and with little water. Aquaponics combines conventional aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). The system imitates a natural wetland. The fish waste acts as a natural nutrient source for the plants and the plants filter the water. The water continues to cycle between both as the crops grow.

Aquaponics in South Africa

South Africa is currently experiencing drought conditions. Though aquaponics is new in South Africa, it has the potential of addressing food insecurity on a larger scale. It may serve as an alternative to traditional methods that are less environmentally sustainable. Growing crops traditionally requires fertile soil and large, consistent amounts of water. Traditional fishing leads to the depletion of fish in the ocean. With aquaponics, once the initial water supply enters the system, there is no need for additional water. The plants do not require soil. Climate conditions have little effect on the aquaponics system, though the fish may need a sustained warm temperature.

The installation of aquaponics can be on a large scale for market sale, or a small scale to feed a village. Even a small system can provide a surplus to sell for income beneficial to families living in poverty. Small-scale systems can be set up in a limited space, such as a backyard or a village common area. By 2018, 190 freshwater farms and 30 saltwater farms were in production in South Africa. Many farmers start small because of the start-up costs and may move to a larger system after developing their practice.

What Are the Benefits of Aquaponics?

Tilapia is the most common fish raised via aquaponics in South Africa. Leafy greens (lettuces) are the most common vegetables. Seventy-five percent of the aquaponics systems in South Africa serve the purpose of hobby farming or producing food for subsistence or human consumption, as opposed to producing for market sale.

Goals for those interested in expanding sustainability and food security with aquaponics in South Africa include raising awareness of the benefits and advancing the technology of small systems to improve production. Farmers practicing aquaponics need to develop an understanding of managing water quality, including pH, nitrogen and oxygen levels. Systems can be fully automated or semi-automated requiring more maintenance effort. Moreover, farmers may purchase fish food or use natural manure sources at no cost.

Aquaponics can grow other vegetables including tomatoes, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, peas and beans. Farmers can harvest plants after one to three months while the fish take 9-10 months to mature. Proponents state that the vegetables flourish and grow more quickly than a traditional garden.

Aquaponics in South Africa Could Help Solve Malnutrition

Aquaponics offers an essential option for those who are at risk of malnutrition, who experience poverty and those who do not have access to sufficient water for traditional farming or gardening practices. An aquaponics system can be set up in rural or urban areas. A basic setup may begin with two repurposed bathtub basins, a water pump and piping or gravel to hold the plants and a properly plumbed system for drainage and recycling of water.

The highly nutritious and organically raised fish and leafy green vegetables provide protein, vitamins and fiber. These high-value crops create a much better alternative to high-starch, low-nutrition foods which may be more readily available when food is scarce. As an added benefit, with a closed water system, no run-off pollutes the environment.

A Need for Funding

In order to continue to boost sustainability and food security goals via aquaponics in South Africa on a larger scale, farmers will need funding to develop the technologies. Scientists are currently studying which systems (tunnels and greenhouses) provide preferable temperatures for different types of fish considering the climate in South Africa.

Though South Africa’s agricultural department plays a role in aquaponics education, proponents ask that the government of South Africa include aquaponics in their agricultural policies so that they may assist with funding. In addition, there is a need for aquaponics education in secondary and tertiary schools to increase knowledge and understanding.

Farmers and entrepreneurs will continue to develop sustainability and food security with aquaponics in South Africa. Aquaponics may provide the solution to climatic variables such as drought. The potential of aquaponics draws fishermen who recognize the decline in fish as a wild resource. In addition, aquaponics eliminates reliance on soil, which becomes depleted of nutrients from overuse. Aquaponics provides highly nutritious food sources that will combat malnourishment in impoverished areas.

Susan Niz
Photo: Flickr

Despite its rebranding as the “Rainbow Nation of Diversity” after the end of the segregationist apartheid regime in 1994, South Africa is still home to prejudice, hate and violence. These five facts about xenophobia in South Africa show that it is creating violence in the country, disrupting communities of refugees and other migrants. Hopefully, the government’s new action plan will help to change the sentiments of those involved in crimes against foreigners.

Foreigners in South Africa

Foreigners and migrants make up roughly 2.8 percent of South Africa’s population. The vast majority of foreign-born residents are from other African countries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho. After the fall of apartheid, South Africa’s economy grew quickly. Job opportunities and relative political stability turned the country into an attractive location for many African immigrants fleeing conflict, poverty or political turmoil.

Over the past few decades, xenophobic violence against many of these immigrants in South Africa has become a common occurrence. These attacks, targeted at immigrant-owned businesses and homes, foreign nationals and refugees in South Africa. They are robbing them of their livelihoods and causing poverty and distress. Here are five facts about xenophobia in South Africa.

5 Facts about Xenophobia in South Africa

  1. Many South African citizens harbor negative attitudes toward foreigners due to fears about resource-scarcity. A survey by the Southern African Migration Project found that two-thirds of South Africans believe that African foreigners strain basic services. At least 29 percent of South Africans would like the government to prohibit immigration completely, citing crime, disease and job-stealing as justification.
  2. South Africa has a history of violent xenophobic attacks that devastate immigrant communities, divide families and cause a loss of homes and businesses. There have been attacks on foreign nationals since 2009. Foreign-owned businesses were being targeted, looted and burned. The attacks have provoked violent, nation-wide campaigns against foreigners, displacing, injuring and killing thousands. Outbreaks of violence since then, as recent as April of this year, reflect widespread anti-foreign attitudes in the country. On March 28, 2019, armed mobs of South Africans killed six foreign nationals and injured others in the city of Durban. The mob broke into the homes of foreigners and stole their belongings. Similar violent attacks have been reported in 2019. Many of the xenophobic attacks specifically targeted black foreigners, often stereotyping them as criminals, drug dealers and generally unsavory, untrustworthy individuals.
  3. Social media and political leadership may be contributing to xenophobia in South Africa. Prominent politicians, like current President Cyril Ramaphosa, have denied the existence of xenophobia. However, they relied on negative attitudes toward foreigners to drum up political support. In early 2019, Ramaphosa encouraged anti-foreign anger at a political rally by vowing to crack down on illegal migrants who enter their “townships and rural areas and set up businesses without licenses and permits.” However, the South African president recently tried to clarify this statement, condemning violent acts against foreigners and promising to protect South Africa’s immigrants. Analysts have warned against using xenophobia as a political weapon. One scholar argues that xenophobia is strengthened and sustained by the “failure of politicians, policymakers, media [and] intellectuals to problematize assumptions of similarity and differences and preconceptions of peoples and cultures.” Some argue that these assumptions produce inequalities and violence by enforcing narrow and exclusionary ideas of national identity.
  4. Several organizations are involved in the fight against xenophobia in South Africa. Lawyers for Human Rights has been working with vulnerable populations in South Africa for more than 35 years. It provides free legal services to both South Africans and foreign-born residents. The organization participated in the People’s March against Xenophobia in 2015. The African Diaspora Forum provides support to foreign nationals in South Africa by encouraging dialogue among South African-born citizens and immigrants in order to build trust and understanding. It also functions as a watch-dog organization, challenging xenophobic statements made by public officials and working to tear down discriminatory public policies.
  5. In March 2019, the South African government launched a National Action Plan to address xenophobic violence and other injustices in the country. The project aims to raise awareness of the issue of xenophobia in South Africa. It hopes to increase anti-discrimination efforts like protection for victims and legal counsel. However, skeptics accused the plan of missing a key part of the problem; the program has no plan to hold accountable those who have committed acts of xenophobic violence.

Xenophobia in South Africa is perpetuating violence and poverty. Many scholars and human rights activists agree that the government should be increasing its efforts to reduce xenophobia in South Africa to protect the physical and economic safety of all of its residents.

Nicollet Laframboise
Photo: Flickr

South Africa has blossomed in the 21st Century into a diverse economic powerhouse. Cape Town, its second-largest city, has become one of the largest trading ports on the continent. Like all countries though, South Africa has its share of problems. One of its most overlooked problems has to do with its orphans. These 10 facts about orphans in South Africa will help outline the current situation and the efforts being made to improve it.

    10 Facts About Orphans in South Africa

  1. One of the biggest factors contributing to the number of orphans in South Africa has been the AIDS epidemic. In 2013, around 3.85 million orphans had lost one or both of their parents to the virus. That is more than 62 percent of the total orphan population. AIDS affects orphan rates by varying degrees. In urban centers that have access to better medical care, it is less of a problem. However, in more rural areas, AIDS is more widespread.
  2. One effective way to fight HIV/AIDS is through Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs). These drugs help slow down the multiplication of the HIV virus. In South Africa, there has been a decrease in HIV mortality rates in communities that have received these ARVs.
  3. The number of orphans in South Africa increased by over 1 million between the years 2002-2009. It was at this time that the South African government recognized the problem and began to take action. It began introducing ARV treatment to the population. As a result, there has been a decrease in the number of orphans over the past couple of years.
  4. By 2017, at least 2.8 million orphaned children in Africa. This includes children with only one biological parent still living. That is roughly 14 percent of all children in South Africa. Although this number is high, it is slightly lower than the year before.
  5. Because it is one of Africa’s economic and cultural hubs, many migrants arrive in South Africa’s urban centers. Some of these migrants are families traveling together. Others are young children who are coming to the country by themselves. These orphaned children are subsequently placed at great risk of being exploited by criminal gangs and trafficking rings.
  6. UNICEF is working with the South African Department of Social Development and civil society in three main ways. First, it is using research to help inform policy-making. Second, it is creating and supporting community safety networks. Third, it is coordinating other services for orphaned children.
  7. South Africa was one of the first countries to embrace the regulation of the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is an international treaty that sets strict standards and protections on intercountry adoptions. The guidelines aim to prevent the trafficking of orphaned children and increase the number of safe adoptions.
  8. Many rural communities have taken a proactive stance to create innovative solutions to the orphan problem. Organizations like Children of the Dawn have been created to give financial aid to these rural community groups. Part of this aid is dedicated to reducing HIV cases in rural communities.
  9. Another organization that has done great work with regards to helping orphans in South Africa is the Oasis Haven of Love Foundation. The organization seeks to provide safe housing for abandoned children waiting for adoptive care. It also works to help orphaned children get adopted.
  10.  Jo’Burg Child Welfare is an NGO based in Johannesburg that provides many adoptive services. The organization also engages in advocacy and legislative work and has been serving the greater Johannesburg area for more than 100 years.

These 10 facts about orphans in South Africa show that, while many problems remain, the country has been making improvements in recent years. With continued NGO and government support and continued progress in reducing HIV, the number of orphans in South Africa will continue to decline.

Henry Burkert
Photo: Pexels

South Africa's Unemployment
South Africa’s unemployment rate is witnessing some of its worst times since 2008. Formal jobs are seeing a major downturn and many families within the country are suffering from larger amounts of poverty as a result. Despite these trying times, there are those who are trying to create opportunities in the face of hardship and help those trying to stand on their own feet through jobs and special education. One example is the fashion designer company OneOfEach and how it is not only creating jobs but showing a blueprint on how to fight South Africa’s unemployment by providing opportunity.

Economic Ups and Downs

South Africa’s economy is actually doing quite well in comparison to many of its neighbors. It has the second largest GDP in all of Africa, as well as having a large working force that has helped the country create the second-largest economy on the continent. Despite these breakthroughs, South Africa is currently undergoing one of its worst unemployment rates since 2008. This has lead to many people questioning how one of the largest economies in Africa can have such a large unemployment rate. The answer is simply lack of jobs and wage inequality.

South Africa has extremely wealthy business owners that own large conglomerates and industries including many labor workers. The problem with this is that the number of people working in labor was and still is far outpacing the number of people creating small businesses and new jobs as a result. South Africa is suffering from a crippling problem that causes a small business to not receive the support it needs to be an accessible venture for those not willing to work in the labor force. Limited job creation stifles job growth as a result.

Strength of Small Business

This is where the company OneOfEach comes in. This is a company that fully displays the culture of South Africa through the designs of clothing and handbags. What started in 2013 as a small business between Pauline Chirume and her daughter, Tamburai Chirume, has evolved into a chain that has 17 stores across the globe. This company stands out not only because of how successful it has been as a small business, but how much it contributes back to the populace. This company has taken it upon itself to make sure others profit from their success to help fight South Africa’s unemployment by providing opportunity.

The Borgen Project interviewed the founder’s daughter to gain more insight into the organization’s operations. Pauline handles the creative side of the business while Tamburai handles the business end of things. Tamburai seeks to heavily involve female youth within the company as she wants to grant them an opportunity which is rare in South Africa. Tamburai mentioned that there are fewer opportunities for women to work in South Africa, which makes it especially difficult for single mothers. Tamburai seeks to employ women and single mothers so that they receive a stable income and job security. These women are also able to gain knowledge that can help them in the future and furthers the cause of fighting unemployment.

OneOfEach has several workshops where it teaches young girls how to manufacture items. These girls are all under the age of 35 and most of them come from poverty-stricken areas, including women’s shelters. The girls that receive training learn how to create items and the basics of the creative process. This is a great boon since most of the girls have never had any experience in retail or fashion design and thus earn a great amount of work experience. Despite all of this, what Tamburai considers one of the greatest accomplishments in her business is the fact that she can give health care to her employees, which is difficult for a small business in South Africa to grant. Tamburai feels that granting health care to her employees is a big step towards them gaining a decent lifestyle. She essentially wants to help these young ladies stand on their own two feet so that eventually they may gain enough education and experience to start small businesses of their own.

Helping the Jobless

Tamburai also notes how she feels that more opportunities like her business need to come into fruition to make a difference in South Africa. She notes that there are 6.7 million unemployed people in the country and she wants to do her part to make sure they have a chance. Tamburai also goes as far as to direct those under her wing to the American Corner, which is an opportunity hub where many can learn about different entrepreneurial possibilities in the country. The co-owner of OneOfEach feels that teaching people how to reach out and create jobs for themselves is one of the more effective ways to help deal with the unemployment rate in South Africa. She fears, however, that unless the government lends more funds and support towards small jobs, the impact will be monetary at best and stagnant at worst.

Tamburai is not incorrect about her observations regarding unemployment, nor should one fault her for trying to help women through her business. While 35 percent of men are out of a job, 43 percent of women are out of a job and having children or being single mothers may exacerbate this. With an unemployment rate of 29 percent which is currently climbing little by little, the country of South Africa has nearly 7 million people that are out of a job. The problem is not getting any better as the employment rate has only increased by 1.4 percent since the first quarter of 2019. If the job market does not include a flood of new jobs then the unemployment rate is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. If some of these young women can make the most out of the tools, skills and experience that Tamburai and her mother have provided, however, they may be able to make a difference in the fight against South Africa’s unemployment.

Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

The NBA and Africa
The National Basketball Association is changing rapidly. The recipients of many of the awards and accolades handed out for the 2018-2019 season of the NBA epitomized this change. The Most Valuable Player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is from Greece. The Rookie of the Year, Luka Dončić, is from Spain. The Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, is from France. Also, Pascal Siakam, a towering Cameroonian who helped lead the Toronto Raptors to the organization’s first championship, was the league’s Most Improved Player. Basketball is becoming more popular internationally and the sport is attracting players from across the globe who have the potential to be stars. Moreover, the NBA and Africa are closely intertwining due to the organization’s search for skilled African athletes.

Africa’s Untapped Potential

Europe, Asia and South America produce many excellent players, but scouts, recruiters and NBA executives are compelled to draw from the largely untapped potential of Africa. Many want to find the next Pascal Siakam or Joel Embiid. Embiid is a seven-foot-tall Allstar center who grew up in Cameroon, like Siakam. The NBA and Africa are forming a strong relationship. In the search of talent, the NBA is not forgetting the needs of impoverished peoples. Many Africans are educating themselves about the game of basketball and the NBA through youth development camps, community service programs and business events.

In 2018, the NBA held the third ever NBA Africa Game in honor of Nelson Mandela’s legacy and gave back to the community through Basketball Without Borders, BWB, Africa and NBA Cares. It donated the proceeds from the sell-out games to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, UNICEF and other charities. BWB provides 78 of the top male and female youth prospects from 29 African countries the opportunity to develop skills with current and former professional basketball players and coaches, like Joel Embiid. The prospects work on their game, but also learn about important life skills like communication and teamwork. These skills are essential for both basketball and everyday life.

Giving Back

The relationship continues to grow because the NBA and Africa have a lot to offer each other. While the assumption is that Africa could potentially produce many great basketball players, people often understate how community development can provide NBA players and officials with a fulfilling outlet for making the world a better place while gaining a perspective on the struggles of impoverished peoples. In 2017, over 200 volunteers from the NBA went to Lenasia, South Africa and helped build 10 homes for low-income families. Two of the volunteers were Allstar players Kemba Walker and C.J. McCollum. They emphasized how the experience was truly eye-opening and humbling.

The Basketball Africa League

In 2019, the NBA and FIBA, The International Basketball Federation, announced plans to create a professional basketball league in Africa, which would be the first instance of the NBA getting involved in a league outside of North America. The Basketball Africa League will consist of 12 teams from across the continent and former U.S. President, Barack Obama, plans to involve himself with the league’s operations. The NBA and FIBA are going to support the league financially in hopes of expanding the market of basketball across the globe. This league has the potential to be extremely beneficial for the NBA and Africa as it produces both talented players and economic, social and technological opportunities for the continent.

– Grant DeLisle
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in South Africa
Following the national election in May 2019, Cyril Ramaphosa, a member of the African National Congress (ANC), started his first full term as President of South Africa. Born in a township outside of Johannesburg, Ramaphosa fought in the South African liberation struggle and negotiated on behalf of the ANC to bring an end to the segregationist regime. He was a member of the international Mandela Reception Committee and held the microphone in 1990 as Nelson Mandela gave his first public speech after 27 years in prison. Ramaphosa initially assumed the presidency after former president Jacob Zuma resigned in February 2018 following a large corruption scandal.

In the general election, Ramaphosa’s party, the ANC, won 58 percent of the vote, granting him the presidency for the next five years. The ANC won with less than 60 percent of the electorate in the May election, which was the first time since South Africa emerged as a free democratic state in 1994. This suggests a significant loss of influence for the party, which has been in power since the fall of apartheid because of its association with Mandela and other freedom fighters.

During his campaign earlier in 2019, Ramaphosa made many promises to the South African people; he vowed to end government corruption and state-capture, improve education and health care, achieve economic stability and drastically reduce poverty in South Africa. Many believe that the future of the ANC, which has been steadily losing support in recent years, depends on Ramaphosa’s ability to deliver on these promises. Here are his plans below.

Unemployment

“Let us declare our shared determination that we shall end poverty in South Africa within a generation.” Ramaphosa made this declaration in his inauguration speech to a country where 40 percent of the population falls beneath the poverty line and unemployment has increased to 27.6 percent.

In June 2019, Ramaphosa vowed to create two million jobs over the next five years through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the Youth Employment Service (YES) and the National Youth Service (NYSP). He also plans to work with private sector investors on special projects that will create 115,000 jobs in the coming years.

Crime

Ramaphosa recognizes the concerns of residents over crime and has promised to cut violent crime rates in half by 2029. To spearhead this effort, he plans to create a national campaign to increase enrollment in police academies, thereby increasing law enforcement in communities around the country. He also pledged to strengthen investigative and prosecutorial processes through improved training. Reducing violence would help relieve poverty in South Africa by ensuring the safety and mental well-being of struggling communities.

Gender-based violence and sexual assault have been widespread in South Africa in the past several years. To combat this issue, Ramaphosa wants to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement to support survivors and deal with these cases more responsibly.

Health Care

Sickness, disease and injury can exacerbate poverty and deteriorate the quality of life if not treated properly. Health care is one of the universal rights that the South African Constitution outlines, which states, “Everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care…” Ramaphosa has promised to improve existing health care and cover all South Africans under a new state health insurance plan. On August 8, 2019, the South African Department of Health published a new National Health Insurance Bill which will cover all residents, including services for refugees, inmates and certain foreigners. The bill will cover all necessary health care services (including reproductive care) free of charge to all South Africans. The country will implement it in a multi-phase approach over the next several years, beginning in September 2019. Ramaphosa plans to use tax increases to pay for part or all of the program. Additionally, the government will promote the employment of health care professionals in rural areas, which are disproportionately underserved in terms of health care quality and access due to the historical legacies of apartheid.

Education

The public education system in South Africa is notoriously poor. The World Economic Forum recently ranked the country 126th out of 138 in the 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report. Ramaphosa plans to fix the country’s schools by implementing a nationwide reading campaign and improving teacher training. He also supports efforts to diversify curriculums by including topics like coding and data analytics in primary school classes. Long before his presidency, Ramaphosa established a charity for South African students, the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET), which supports gifted but disadvantaged students in their efforts to attend university.

Corruption

Political corruption has long been a problem in South Africa; government officials routinely siphon money away from South Africa’s many social welfare and public improvement programs to enrich themselves and the corporations they connect with. The party with the most officials accused of stealing public funds for personal use is the ANC, which has remained in power despite scandals. The corruption has even led to the assassination of whistleblowers who have accused ANC officials of pocketing public funds. Former President Jacob Zuma had to resign in 2018 after intense corruption allegations that he had stolen government money and granted profitable government contracts to preferred corporations and friends.

President Ramaphosa has acknowledged that his party is currently under great scrutiny due to its previous transgressions. In June 2019, he vowed to redistribute more than $979 million recovered from successfully prosecuted corruption scandals, directing the funds toward services and infrastructure in poor communities. He also made a public commitment to strengthen the reach and influence of government watchdog agencies like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Special Investigative Unit (SIU), the South African Revenue Service and State Security. Ramaphosa recently met with the national director of public prosecutions to create a plan to increase the capacity of the NPA to investigate public officials and seize assets of corruption proceedings.

–  Nicollet Laframboise
Photo: Flickr

Single Motherhood in South Africa
Poverty in South Africa disproportionately affects women, a phenomenon people know as the feminization of poverty. Despite efforts by the South African government to combat severe female poverty and disadvantage, the feminization of South African poverty remains an important issue today. Single motherhood in South Africa is a huge problem because it puts a severe psychological and financial strain on both mothers and children. As of 2015, more than half of the South African population was living under the official poverty line, and homes headed by black African women are at greatest risk of impoverishment.

Despite government efforts to alleviate race-and-gender-skewed poverty with state-sponsored health care, free housing programs and subsidized basic services like water and electricity, poverty in South Africa remains overwhelmingly black and female. Half of South African children grow up in fatherless households, and the number of single mother households in the country has grown over the past several decades. Women must increasingly raise and support children alone, which increases a family’s risk of living under the poverty line.

Single-Mother Households and Poverty

The link between single-mother households and poverty is undeniable, impacting even the world’s most affluent nations. In Europe, single-mother households generally have more than double the poverty rate of two-parent households. Single-parent households are bound to bring in less money than married couples because they only have one source of income. As a result, children living in single-parent homes are three times as likely to be poor as children living with married parents.

South African women earn an average of 28 percent less than men, partly accounting for the disproportionate poverty of female-led households. Women also have a harder time finding jobs than men; almost 30 percent of working-age women are unemployed, compared to 25.2 percent of men. Women are also more likely to work in the informal, unregulated sector or do unpaid work. Other vulnerabilities, like domestic abuse, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy and HIV prevent South African women from supporting themselves and their families.

There are psychological consequences for children in fatherless households as well as financial strains. Research has found that boys who grow up with absent fathers are more likely to display aggression and other hyper-masculine behaviors, which increases their risk for unhealthy relationships, crime and addiction. Fatherless girls are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors, experience an unwanted pregnancy or find themselves in an abusive relationship. These consequences propagate the cycle of fatherless homes.

Why is Single Motherhood in South Africa Common?

For almost 50 years, South Africa’s white-supremacist government crystalized systematic inequality on the basis of race through the system of Apartheid. Now, only 25 years into liberation, the South African people still feel these legacies deeply. One of the main contributing factors is the urban-rural divide. Apartheid relegated black South Africans were often in rural homelands far from metropolitan centers and, subsequently, jobs. Thousands of black men had to migrate to cities to find work. They lived in male-only hostels or townships, making low wages and sending money back to their families, who could not leave the homelands to join them.

Some argue that the destruction of the black family structure by the Apartheid regime contributed to patterns of male family-abandonment and neglect. This phenomenon may have had a hand in the recent increase in single-mother households.

Additionally, the vast gap in access to good education, well-paying jobs and respect in society created socio-economic inequalities in South Africa. Black South Africans remain poorly educated, and cyclical, persistent poverty traps many of them, leaving them unable to pull themselves out. In addition, 13 percent of all pregnancies in the country are teen pregnancies, which prevent mothers from finishing school and focusing on a career, resulting in continuous poverty.

The South African government recognizes the scope and seriousness of poverty in single-mother households and has adopted the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 to raise living standards, provide public services and reduce severe poverty and inequality. The policy outlines a plan to invest in education, health services, public transport, housing and social security, as well as welfare policies directed specifically at women and children, like a national nutrition program for pregnant women and a plan to increase women’s enrollment in schools, especially in rural areas. Single motherhood in South Africa is a dangerous phenomenon, and in order to alleviate this problem, women need better access to education, resources and job opportunities.

– Nicollet Laframboise
Photo: Flickr

Nelson Mandela Quotes on Love

As the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela put persistent effort in dismantling the apartheid that divided the nation for 46 years. His peaceful protests against the racist legislation of the South African government exemplified legendary courage and leadership. These Nelson Mandela quotes on love reflect that through social activism and philanthropy, a passion for the betterment of humankind can change the world.

Nelson Mandela continuously inspires liberation movements across the world. His prison sentence of 27 years for the political offense of organizing and supporting the anti-apartheid movement lives on as a principle of a true hero. After being released from prison, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then in 1994, he became the nation’s first democratically elected President. Inspiration for any oppressed group of people can be found in Mandela’s quotes about love for others and love of justice.

Ten Nelson Mandela Quotes on Love

  1. “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
  2. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
  3. “You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”
  4. “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
  5. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
  6. “As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.”
  7. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
  8. “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
  9. “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”
  10. “Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

These Nelson Mandela quotes on love depict the ways in which he witnessed the world, and sought to change it. With love for oneself, others and one’s country, anything is possible.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons