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More than 30 years after the nation’s famous anti-apartheid youth revolt, high employment could fuel a similar uprising, according to one official.

In fact, during the recent interview with CNN, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African trade unions, also likened such a rebellion to the Arab spring from earlier this year (which saw longtime leaders from Egypt and Tunisia get booted), warning that the nation could stand to become the “new Egypt.”

“If we don’t do something urgent enough with the crisis of youth unemployment in South Africa we will be in Tunisia and Egypt very soon,” he said during the interview.

And on apartheid he drew further comparisons.

“I’ve participated in the struggle and I know what type of aspirations and hopes all of us carried throughout those many dark years of struggle against apartheid…. I’m only pointing out that after 17 years of all that democracy in the country we’ve seen little change when it comes to economic freedom,” he said.

“We have unemployment … at 36.6%, with 48% of our people living in poverty. We’re now number one in the world when it comes to inequalities.” According to U.S. statistics, unemployment in the nation sits at a little over 23 percent.

He later added that 73 percent of all of the nation’s unemployed are under the age of 35, calling it a youth revolt waiting to happen.

On the whole, South Africa is the continent’s brightest economic success story. Seen as a gateway to Africa for foreign investors, the nation was the first to host the World Cup Games and was recently considering an Olympic bid. Wal-Mart’s landmark majority purchase of a South African retailer back in May was also, on its face, a step forward for the nation in terms of international business.

However the purchase has been highly criticized by union officials, and many in South Africa worry that the U.S.-based mega-retailer’s foreign imports could hurt local manufacturers and cause more job loss.

But does that mean the nation’s unions are anti-foreign investment? Not necessarily.

 “I’m a realist,” Vavi told CNN. “I know that 80% of all people employed in the economy of South Africa are employed in the private sector and that demonstrates the extent of the role of the markets, of the private sector, in the South African economy. I wish that was not true, but that is true.”

But without a “growth path” to “absorb large numbers of youth into employment” the nation’s unemployment problem won’t get better, he said.

And South Africa may be running out of time.

Could South Africa Be on the Brink of Another Uprising? | News | BET.


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Overview of the Corruption Perceptions Index (...

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South Africa’s ANC is reviving apartheid-era secrecy laws that could make exposing corruption or dodgy government deals punishable with prison, raising fears for the future of the country’s new democracy. Opponents of the Protection of Information Bill argue it will allow dishonest officials to hide misdemeanours by making sensitive information difficult to obtain and by threatening journalists or whistleblowers with up to 25 years in jail. Even the ANC’s biggest ally, the trade union federation COSATU, has called on the former liberation movement not to rush the proposed bill into law. “This new bill is a threat to South Africans’ democratic right to be fully informed on matters of public interest,” COSATU, which claims about 2 million members, said in statement. “It could be abused to cover up information on corruption, the misuse of public resources and to criminalise whistleblowers who try to expose crime and corruption.” The ANC, which came to power in 1994 after decades of white-minority rule, says the law is in line with international norms and is not a bid to gag whistleblowers or the media, which makes a habit of exposing tales of state fraud and corruption. The ANC said newspapers that want access to classified documents can go through courts, a long and drawn-out process. “The claim that the media can seek access to a classified document via the courts is laughable,” the Sunday Times, South Africa’s leading weekend newspaper, said in an editorial. “This amounts to censorship by litigation,” it continued. “In the event that the courts grant permission, (it) would occur a considerable time after it was relevant.” A survey by market research company TNS released this week showed only 31 percent of South Africans supported the new laws Once implemented the laws would give more civil servants and state institutions sweeping powers to deem documents state secrets, raising concerns among investors about the health of state enterprises such as power utility Eskom . “The law, if and when it’s passed, will not have an immediate market impact but investors are concerned about a creeping erosion of transparency,” said Anne Fruhauf, Eurasia’s Africa analyst. “An investor comparing emerging markets said they were more confident about the information from Brazil, which we all know has corruption and transparency issues, than they were about the information they obtain in South Africa,” she added. “If you close down the space further, you have a problem.”

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