Economic History of South Africa - Apartheid

Apartheid

In 1948, a government was elected (by the whites alone) that introduced the policy of Apartheid (segregation) that was ostensibly to allow different racial groups to progress in their separate areas. In practice, Apartheid legislated racial division that confirmed white economic and political superiority and ensured that blacks were maintained in subservient positions.

In the two decades following the rise to power of the National Party, whites (particularly Afrikaners) were given an advantage over all other ethnic groups in South Africa through the manipulation of the labour market. During the Fifties, the income hierarchy in South Africa was essentially a racial one, with well-paid employment monopolized by Whites (almost all of whom were reasonably remunerated), Coloureds and Indians in middling class positions, and Black Africans at the bottom. As noted by one historian,

“Full employment, in combination with labour controls, limitations on the free movement and employment of non-whites, and the use of colour bars at company level, contributed to high levels of disposable income for the white population”.

English-speaking South Africans had participated in the discrimination that preceded apartheid, and tacitly supported the legislation while paying lip service to opposing the laws. By so doing apartheid managed to create a system in which black people were pushed to the margins of their land through the imposition of the Land Act of 1913. Repercussions of this act are still felt today; many blacks are unskilled, illiterate, and have low living standards. Their schooling system, the Bantu languages education, was based on the notion that black people cannot progress in scientific subjects, and has resulted in many being excluded from such jobs.

Read more about this topic:  Economic History Of South Africa

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