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Posts Tagged ‘United Nations Human Development Index’

The foundation to any stable long-term democracy is an educated, employed, and organized civil society with small differences between rich and poor. One of the reasons why Canada ranks high on the United Nations Human Development Index is because these points are well covered.

In Canada we take this for granted; however, it is distant reality in many emerging economies, such as Brazil, Chile, or South Africa. Brazil and Chile seem to finally be over the hump, having achieved sufficient economic growth and education that the governments of these countries can now be held accountable to the population for the decisions they make. This in the long term should reduce corruption, improve living standards and infrastructure, and increase state tax revenues in these countries as the ranks of the middle class grow.

In South Africa this trend is far from evident. While large portions of South Africa’s majority non-white population have seen an improvement and elevation to the ranks of the middle class, many young South Africans remain un or under employed, with little prospects for the future. High long term structural unemployment combined with HIV is South Africa’s Achilles heel, and the biggest threat to the country’s future. It has also lead to the rise of right wind nationalism inside the country. As reported by the Economist on July 2nd, 2011, Julius Malema was elected without opposition to another term as the head of the ANC’S Youth Wing.

Mr. Malema’s nationalist agenda involves mobilizing the unemployed and uneducated youth of South Africa around a platform of wealth, land, and business expropriation from the white minority and non-white elite. While Mr Malema is not the leader of the ANC itself, and not in line to become the country’s president, he is a brilliant orator and has the means to shape ANC policy.

Mr. Malema finds an audience amongst South Africa’s angry uneducated and unemployed youth who live in massive shantytowns on the fringes of the country’s major cities. South Africa suffers from a history of violence spawned from the racist Apartheid era, today the violence counts over 50 murders and hundreds of rapes a day, many of these occurring inside these sprawling slums. In this sea of misery hatred can only fester.

As long as South Africa continues to graduate generations of young people without basic education and opportunities for honest work, the country will continue adrift, vulnerable to social unrest, HIV, and crime. It is essential for the future of South Africa that South Africa’s educated black and white elite take note, and begin aggressively putting the resources towards education and employment. The country’s enormous wealth and education divide is not sustainable; to ignore this reality is pure folly.

In the word’s of Mandela, “Much has been achieved and much remains to be done”.

References:
The Economist Magazine, July 2nd, 2011
National Geographic Magazine June 2010
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