People, Social Issues
South African politics, Coloured people, socioeconomic class, central issue, South African society
The apartheid heritage has left a strong connection between race and socioeconomic class. Under apartheid, from 1948 to 1994, a personís race influenced occupation, place of residence, education, choice of partner, freedom of movement, and use of facilities and amenities. This legacy will take decades to erase. In 1993 blacks made up 76 percent of the population but earned only 29 percent of the countryís total income. Whites, who constituted only 13 percent of the population, accounted for 58 percent of total income. For Coloured people the shares were 8 percent of the population and about 7 percent of the income; for Asians, 3 percent of the population and 5 percent of the income.
During most of the 20th century, race was the central issue in South African politics, but since the end of apartheid attention has focused on other problems in South African society as well. The most prominent of these issues are unemployment, lack of housing, poverty, and crime. Women, especially black women, are disproportionately the victims of violent crime. These social issues are closely related to one another, and to some degree they are also the legacy of apartheid. They are among the main concerns of the governmentís Reconstruction and Development Programme.
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