South African Election Guide: When a dying order faced up to the facts: Apartheid collapsed under weight of numbers but its legacy survives, says Richard Dowden in Johannesburg

IT IS SAID that the moment a few years ago when the white South African cabinet quailed and decided to give up occurred when they were given the statistics. Statistics such as these: white women were bearing an average of 1.7 children, black women 4.7 children; 32 per cent of the white population was under 21 years old but 50 per cent of the black population was under the same age; and 46 per cent of the economically active population, 5 million people, were unemployed. No new jobs were created overall in the Eighties and gross domestic product per capita was falling.

With no new investment coming into the country there was little prospect of turning the economy round. The cabinet knew the trends could only worsen. Perhaps the African National Congress knew the answers.

Bureaucracy and statistics fed on the apartheid system and its figures were always carefully compiled and published. The racial breakdown was always explicit. The old black/

white division is now blurring into a non-racial rich/poor division but the legacy of apartheid which kept blacks poor and helped whites get rich is still clear.

Take health: in the last years of apartheid the government spent pounds 120 per head a year on health for whites and pounds 27 per head a year on blacks. The number of children who die before the age of five is 8.6 per thousand among whites and 52 per thousand among blacks. That is high even by African standards.

Some 42 per cent of households, consisting of 17 million people, live below the minimum subsistence level of pounds 110 a month. About 4 million of these, all of them black, are close to starvation. In a country which has developed hi-tech medical equipment, 12 million people have no access to drinkable water and 23 million have no electricity. Most of these are in rural areas but only 5.5 per cent of South Africa's 24,619 doctors work in rural areas.

Overall South Africa is a medium-size country of about 39.5 milion people with a highly developed First World sector and a huge marginalised Third World comparable in size to Argentina. In racial terms South Africa has about 30 million black people and 5 million white. Just over 1 million are of Asian origin, while 3.4 million were classified as Coloured(mixed race). More significant from now on will be the urban-rural divide. An estimated 43 per cent of South Africa's population live in rural areas but many are drifting to rural slums near cities, where agriculture is still carried out. Those living in rural areas are far less likely to have access to education or medical facilities.

Education also shows up the legacy of apartheid. Over 90 per cent of people over 18 who have no formal education are black, while 84 per cent of the population with university education are white. In 1987, pounds 500m was spent on educating a million white children, while about the same amount was spent educating 5 million black children.

That gap is narrowing rapidly. The black/white spending ratio was 18:1 in 1969 and by 1990 it was 4:1. Income - directly related to apartheid laws that preserved jobs for whites - still shows a marked discrepancy. In 1990 per capita income for blacks was pounds 32 a month, while for whites it was pounds 260 a month.

Perhaps the most poignant and telling statistic of apartheid is the infant mortality causes, which show that most black children die from water-borne diseases. Most white children die from swimming-pool accidents.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?