AFRICANGLOBE – The country is on a knife edge with 13 politicians murdered in the last month and the national broadcaster refusing to show images of violence fearing it will incite more attacks.
One radical party has called for a Zimbabwe-style land reclamation of the estimated 80 percent white-owned land.
There are also fears among the 1.6 million British community who have emigrated to South Africa for cheap living that they could be forced home.
Following heavy defeats in this week’s municipal elections politicians from the ruling African National Congress have spoken out against what they call “economic apartheid.”
They are threatening to nationalise the mines and other radical reforms to win back the African vote.
Kebby Maphatsoe, the veterans’ minister, said: “We are very, very worried if we don’t do anything to change our economy from being in the hands of the minority we will have our people uprising.”
He also suggested the radical step of nationalising the mine industry.
He said: “We should blame ourselves for not being brave enough for radical change in South Africa’s economy. We need Black economic empowerment. We need to take over the running of companies. They cannot be in white hands forever.”
The ANC, which under Nelson Mandela was responsible for winning African people the vote and ending political apartheid, have dominated elections since 1994.
But in municipal elections this week they lost the iconic Nelson Mandela Bay area although the ANC has 54 percent of the vote nationally.
South Africa’s 55 million population is 77 percent African and nine per cent white but Africans are becoming increasingly frustrated at inequalities.
They get half the pay of whites, only three percent of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is African-owned and the four major banks are white-dominated.
Lindiwe Zulu, the ANC’s business minister, said: “The whites made their money during apartheid and they are benefiting more now. If you don’t deal with the marginalisation of Africans Blacks in the economy you are going to be in trouble.”
There are also worries among the white community.
Briton David Mitchell said: “There is a danger of racial tension getting to the point where people point to the whites and demand their land back.”
In townships like Soweto people are angry. South Africa has 27 percent unemployment and is heading into recession.
Richard Mbele, 36, a science teacher said: “There’s a bomb waiting to blast. “The only Black power we have is to allow the rich to get richer. Some people say are even saying it was better in the time of apartheid because there were more jobs.”
By: Thomas Harding
Apartheid Did Not Die