Tag Archives: south africa

The Unpopular Apartheid Governments

FiveThirtyEight has a really fascinating post of how Apartheid was an unpopular policy among the whites of South Africa. Some excerpts:

Compared to this, the National Party offered the promise of ending English dominance of the civil service and the economy as well ending the competition that African laborers moving to the urban areas posed to poor Afrikaner workers. When the votes were counted the United Party had won a large popular vote victory, 547,437 (50.9%) for the United Party to 443,278 (41.2%) for the National Party. But when the seats were declared, the National party and its allies had won 79, compared to 71 for the United Party and its allies.

Secondly, the National Party had the advantage of being an ethnic party in a country in which the ethnic balance favored them. Afrikaners, to whom they focused their appeal, made up 57% of the population, and were furthermore, better distributed for electoral purposes, making up the majority in 98 out of 150 seats. The redistricting that followed the Nationalist victory in 1948 only increased this discrepancy by adding six seats for Namibia, which was annexed in violation of UN resolutions calling for its independence.

Therefore, the results in the next two elections were even more disproportionate. In 1953, the opposition had united into the United Front, and had high hopes of victory, and with the unified support the South African business community and economic elite, they outspent the National party by nearly 4-1. Nevertheless, when the votes were counted the pattern of 1948 was repeated, only to an even greater extent than in 1948. In Cape Town the United Front won 73%; in Cape Elizabeth 65%. But in the rest of Cape Province, the National Party won 57% of the vote, and 29 out of 33 seats. The pattern was repeated nationwide. By 1958, the Opposition had all but given up serious hope of winning despite the fact that the results indicated that they still held the support of a majority of the electorate.

The greatest threat to the system was always naked demographics, and by giving no option to young whites for political change, it drove many of South Africa’s best and brightest towards emigration. By the 1970s it was not just English speakers who were leaving the country, but also young Afrikaners who wanted an opportunity to escape an Afrikaans-only educational system that the National party seemed determined to force them into.

By the end of the 1970s, the white population was actually falling by nearly 20,000 a year, a pace that would more than double by the beginnings of the 1980s. While the electoral system may have made it increasingly difficult for South Africans to oust the National government with their votes, it in many cases led them to vote against its system of Apartheid with their feet.

Like the Republic of South Africa, the United States of America also imposes unpopular, racially discriminatory laws which harm its competitiveness.

Life after Systems Administration

Hughes, J. (2007). South Africa’s rising wave of crime. Christian Science Monitor. August 24, 2007. Available online: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0824/p09s01-coop.html.

The Christian Science monitor is optimistic, to say the least:

It is now 13 years since South Africa turned its back on the oppressive era of apartheid and, in a remarkably peaceful transition, embraced democracy. Much has been accomplished as blacks and whites sculpt a new, multiracial nation. But the warning in the Sowetan’s boardroom is a reminder that democracy must be nurtured to flourish.

Besides “democracy,” the fall of the Nationalist government brought hope on one front: the Nationalists ran their economies along welfareist-socialist lines, and a shock therapy program by the new rulers (of the African National Congress) might jump-start the economy.

Instead, solid economic growth is accompanied with an increasingly violent society and ethnic cleansing against the most educated demographics within the country. And of coures,


courtesy hdr.undp.org

As can be seen in the chart above, South Africa’s human development index under the Nationalist government was essentially that of a Latin American or Caribbean state. Since the African National Congress has taken over, South Africa’s human development has fallen below Latin America’s, below East Asia’s, below the Arab states’, nearing South Asia’s, and is steadily regressing to the mean for sub-Saharan Africa.

Generally, two factors are behind Gappishness — having your country be one of the worst in the world. One is economic system. The other is the average intelligence of the population that runs the state. The easiest states to bring up are those with bad economic systems but high general intelligence, such as those of East Asia. The hardest countries to bring up are those that suffer from both bad institutions and low general intelligence.

The worst parts of the Gap will not shrink themselves. Pretending they will confines a billion people to misery, terror, and death. Shrinking the Gap requires a long term, institutional commitment by the Core.

The Core’s last attempt has failed everhwere or is failing everywhere in Africa. The European states were too weak and too self-destructive to complete their mission. Hopefully, the next wave of Systems Administration will be luckier.