After Mandela, What's Next For South Africa?

Some 18 years after apartheid, amicable race relations and free elections define South Africa, but so do crime, corruption and economic inequality.
Posted at 3:17 PM, Dec 07, 2013

"Never, never and never again shall this beautiful land again experience the oppression of one by another." (Via The White House)

Those words were spoken by Nelson Mandela at his inaugural speech as South Africa's first black president in 1994. 

Now, nearly 20 years later, the Rainbow Nation must come to grips with the passing of its most iconic leader and assess whether the country has met his vision of a democratic South Africa with equal opportunities for all. (Via The Telegraph)

While mostly amicable race relations and free elections now define today's South Africa, so does crime, corruption and economic inequality.

South Africa has some of the world's highest rates for violent crimes, with the yearly number of casualties on par with those seen in African countries caught up in civil wars. (Via Press TV)

Los Angeles Times explains the murder rate has slowly decreased since Mandela was elected president but that a dramatic increase in the figures this year is raising fears that the current government's approach to crime is not working. 

"The 2012-13 statistics ... are the worst in a decade. ... The figures show increases in the crimes South Africans fear most: murder; attempted murder; violent, armed house robbery; and carjacking."

And criticisms of the South African government don't end end there. Perceived government corruption weighs on the minds of many South Africans.

There are major accusations against current President Jacob Zuma for misusing public funds to, among other things, enhance facilities at his private estate. (Via YouTube / sabcdigitalnews, The Guardian)

Just days before Mandela's death, Transparency International released its 2013 Corruption Perception Index, which ranked South Africa 72nd out of 177 countries with a score of 42. Last year South Africa scored 43. 

The Corruption Perception Index scores countries on a 0-100 scale based on perceived corruption where zero is the most the corrupt and 100 is the most clean. (Via BBC)

But perhaps South Africa's biggest problem is lingering economic and racial inequality even some 18 years after the end of apartheid — something a writer for Bloomberg says is the greatest threat to Mandela's legacy. 

"About 80 percent of South Africa's 51.8 million population is black. ... While incomes for black households increased an average 169 percent over 10 years, their annual earnings are 60,613 rand ($6,987) ... a sixth of that for whites."

And another anti-apartheid revolutionary, Desmond Tutu, said in November that progress in the country would be halted "if the gap between the rich and the poor [is] not narrowed." (Via Live Mint)

Reflecting on Mandela's death, a white South African writer for The Atlantic says the leader's absence is a time for South Africa to look at where it has been and where it wants to go in the future. 

"Now that Mandela has died, something will shift in South Africa for good. It will be time to take stock of where we are as a young democracy and realize that ending apartheid was just one battle in a much bigger war. I hope we're ready to fight." (Via The Atlantic)

Mandela's public funeral service is scheduled take place on Dec. 15.