South Africa: Celebration of 25 years of freedom South African- In 1994 when South Africa held its first historic democratic elections on 27 Apri
South African- In 1994 when South Africa held its first historic democratic elections on 27 April that marked the end of apartheid rule and an introduction of a new Constitutional order, wherein all South Africans work towards a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Earlier this year South Africans celebrated 25 years of freedom and that momentous occasion presents an opportunity for us to reflect on how our democratic goals were achieved. As South Africans we should look back in history on the progress made in the past 25 years and where we need to improve going forward.
Service delivery protests in South Africa have become a widespread occurrence in recent years. Residents take to the streets in protest against poor services received in their communities, hoping that their voices will be heard and their problems fixed. Communities are raising their voices about issues such as access to electricity, housing, water and sanitation, health, and social security.
Statistics South Africa recently released the General Household Survey report for 2018, which covers all these and other issues that communities face. Let’s have a look at a few of these issues and what the new report reveals.
Stats South Africa measures the expenditure side of GDP, providing an indication of total spending in the economy. It includes government spending, household spending, investment spending (gross fixed capital formation and changes in inventories), and net exports.
Gross fixed capital formation (fixed investment) increased by 6,1% driven mostly by increased spending on machinery and transport equipment. This is the first positive rise in gross fixed capital formation since the fourth quarter of 2017. However, activities related to construction works and non-residential buildings were down in the second quarter of 2019.
Household consumption expenditure increased by 2,8% in the second quarter, mainly driven by a rise in spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as recreation and culture. Households held back on eating out and accommodation, however, spending on restaurants and hotels slipped by 3,8%.
South African exports of goods and services edged lower (-0,7%), largely influenced by a fall in the trade of pearls, precious and semi-precious stones. In contrast, imports jumped by 18,8% in the second quarter, driven mostly by a rise in trade of machinery and electrical equipment, mineral products and chemical products.
Access to water
Despite early gains in the provision of water, provision slowed down notably after 2014. Although the percentage of households with access to an improved source of water only increased by less than five percentage points between 2002 and 2018 (growing from 84,4% to 89,0%), the increases were much more notable in Eastern Cape (+19,0 % points) and KwaZulu-Natal (+11,2 % points).
This slow down coincided with a stabilization in the provision of public or communal taps (dropping from 13,6% in 2002 to 12,3% in 2018) and piped water on-site (increasing marginally from 27,7% in 2002 to 28,5% by 2018) in favour of increasing the percentage of households who had access to piped water in the dwelling.
The latter indicator value increased from 40,4% in 2002 to 46,3% in 2018. The impact of rapid household growth is borne out by the observation that the number of households with access to water in the dwelling increased by 70,8% between 2002 and 2018, growing from 4,5 million to 7,7 million while the percentage of households with access to water in the dwelling only increased by 5,9% percentage points over the same period.
Access to improved sanitation seems to have stagnated at around 80%, and the last 20% seem to be hardest to achieve. Through the provision and the efforts of government, support agencies and existing stakeholders, the percentage of households with access to improved sanitation increased by 21,3 percentage points between 2002 and 2018, growing from 61,7% to 83,0%.
Most improvement was noted in Eastern Cape where the percentage of households with access to improved sanitation increased by 54,6 percentage points to 88%, and Limpopo in which access increased by 32 % points to 58,9%.
The installation of pit toilets with ventilation pipes played an important part in achieving the large improvements. A range of reasons, including rapid household growth and urbanization, as well as a preference for flush toilets have all contributed to the slow progress over the reference period. The relative scarcity of water and regular water interruptions experienced in many parts of the country will increasingly lead to the use of alternative sources of sanitation.
In South Africa educational attendance has improved, but outcomes are not ideal as access to post-school education is limited. There were approximately 14,2 million learners at school in 2018 according to survey conducted by Statistic South Africa.
Participation in education institutions was virtually universal (97,4%) by the age of 15 years (the last compulsory school age) and approximately three-quarters (74,5%) of learners were still in school by the age of 18 which usually represents the age at which learners exit grade 12.
The percentage of individuals aged 20 years and older who did not have any education decreased from 11,4% in 2002 to 4,5% in 2018, while those with at least a grade 12 qualification increased from 30,5% to 45,2% over the same period.
Inter-generational functional literacy has also decreased markedly. While 57,8% of South Africans over the age of 60 years did not at least complete a grade 7 qualification, this figure dropped to only 4,4% for those aged 20 ̶ 39 years of age.
While two-thirds of learners attend no-fee schools, lack of money still contributes to dropping out. The percentage of learners that attended no-fee schools increased from 21,4% in 2007 to 67,2% by 2018. Almost one-quarter (24,2%) of learners who have dropped out of school before the age of 18 years, however, put forward a lack of money (‘no money for fees’) as the main reason.
Although educational attainment continues to improve in South Africa, Early Childhood Development (ECD) services are restricted. ECD programmes are offered at day-care centres, crèches, playgroups, nursery schools and in pre-primary schools.
At the time of the survey, 38,4% of the 0–4-year-olds attended these kinds of facilities and access to these facilities was highest in Gauteng (49,8%) and Western Cape (43,7%).
Although 49,2% of children aged 0-4 years stayed at home with parents or guardians, the survey suggests that stimulation might be lacking. Almost one-half (46,8%) of parent or guardians never read books with children while 43,1% never drew or colored with the children.
Social grants remain a vital safety net, particularly in the poorest provinces. The percentage of households and persons who benefited from a social grant have increased decidedly since 2002. While 31% of persons benefited from a grant in 2018, 44,3% of household received one or more grants.
Grants are the second most important source of income (45,2%) for households after salaries (64,8%), and the main source of income for almost one-fifth (19,9%) of households nationally.
A larger percentage of households received grants compared to salaries as a source of income in Eastern Cape (59,9% versus 52,6%) and Limpopo (57,9% versus 51,3%). Grants were particularly important as a main source of income for households in Eastern Cape (35,0%), Limpopo (30,4%) and Northern Cape (29,8%).
Increased access to electricity is replacing the use of environmentally unfriendly alternatives although cost and reliability of energy, perhaps, remain an issue. An increase in the percentage of households that were connected to the electricity supply from the mains from 76,7% in 2002 to 84,7% in 2018, was accompanied by a decrease in the use of wood (20,0% to 7,7%) and paraffin (16,1% to 3,6%) over the same period.
The common use of particularly wood in rural provinces such as Limpopo (31,6%) and Mpumalanga (16,2%) is, however, an indication that available resources are less expensive than using electricity, thereby increasing the health risks associated with open fires.
The data also show that households utilize multiple resources for lighting, cooking and heating. This is indicative of the fact that households opted to use the cheapest sources of energy where available, or that they had to rely on alternative sources during interruptions.
The survey also found that households’ satisfaction with electricity services actually declined between 2010 and 2018 as the percentage of households that rated the service as ‘good’ decreased marginally from 67,5% to 65,7%.
Although there’s an improvements in terms of socioeconomic position in South Africa, unemployment still remains a problem. The results of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) was, released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), indicate that the official unemployment rate increased by 1,4 percentage points to 29,0% compared to the first quarter of 2019.
The number of unemployed persons increased by 455 000 to 6,7 million in Q2: 2019 compared to Q1: 2019, resulting in an increase of 476 000 in the labour force. This unemployment rate increase was the highest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2003.
About 71,5% of those in unemployment have been looking for work for a period of a year or longer. There are a number of reasons why people choose to not seek employment. Not economically active is defined as those who were not employed during the reference period, wanted to work, were available to work or to start a business but did not take active steps to find work in the four weeks preceding the survey interview.
These persons are regarded as discouraged work-seekers if the main reason for not seeking work was either that there were no jobs available in the area, they were unable to find work requiring their skills or they lost hope of finding any kind of work.
In the second quarter of 2019 the number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 248 000. The number of people who did not look for work for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 77 000 compared to the first quarter of 2019, resulting in a net decrease of 326 000 in the number of people out of the labour force.
This decrease in discouragement stems from the number of discouraged work-seekers and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreasing by 248 000 and 77 000, respectively, between the first and the second quarters of 2019, resulting in a net decrease of 326 000 in the not economically active population.
Unemployment is considered to be the root cause of many problems South Africa is facing today such as crime, poverty and suicide.