24.08.2015: South Africa – divided forever?, Berlin

24.08.2015: South Africa – divided forever?, Berlin

South Africa is still one of the socio-economically most divided societies in the world (with one of the highest Gini coefficients). Racial origins determine to a large extent identity politics in post-apartheid South Africa. Whereas, at the outset of democracy Nelson Mandela and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission received much attention and praise for their efforts towards reconciliation and nation building. Today’s continuity of racial, economic, and political division has massive implications for the development of South Africa, as large parts of society feel excluded and frustrated. Xenophobic attacks of recent years seem to be another aspect of a society at unease with itself.

Considering the state of the nation today, why are the apartheid cleavages so sustainable, never ending? How does this situation of a divided society influence developmental efforts of the South African government which stresses the concept of a developmental state based on collective and inclusive efforts for economic development? What needs to be done to overcome some of the dividing societal factors, if anything can be done at all?

Best regards

Rene Gradwohl


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