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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?