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South Africa, on the continent's southern tip, is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and by the Indian Ocean on the south and east. Its neighbors are Namibia in the northwest, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the north, and Mozambique and Swaziland in the northeast. The kingdom of Lesotho forms an enclave within the southeast part of South Africa, which occupies an area nearly three times that of California.
The southernmost point of Africa is Cape Agulhas, located in the Western Cape Province about 100 mi (161 km) southeast of the Cape of Good Hope.
The San people were the first settlers; the Khoikhoi and Bantu-speaking tribes followed. The Dutch East India Company landed the first European settlers on the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, launching a colony that by the end of the 18th century numbered only about 15,000. Known as Boers or Afrikaners, and speaking a Dutch dialect known as Afrikaans, the settlers as early as 1795 tried to establish an independent republic.
After occupying the Cape Colony in that year, Britain took permanent possession in 1815 at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, bringing in 5,000 settlers. Anglicization of government and the freeing of slaves in 1833 drove about 12,000 Afrikaners to make the “great trek” north and east into African tribal territory, where they established the republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold nine years later brought an influx of “outlanders” into the republics and spurred Cape Colony prime minister Cecil Rhodes to plot annexation. Rhodes's scheme of sparking an “outlander” rebellion, to which an armed party under Leander Starr Jameson would ride to the rescue, misfired in 1895, forcing Rhodes to resign. What British expansionists called the “inevitable” war with the Boers broke out on Oct. 11, 1899. The defeat of the Boers in 1902 led in 1910 to the Union of South Africa, composed of four provinces, the two former republics, and the old Cape and Natal colonies. Louis Botha, a Boer, became the first prime minister. Organized political activity among Africans started with the establishment of the African National Congress in 1912.
Jan Christiaan Smuts brought the nation into World War II on the Allied side against Nationalist opposition, and South Africa became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945, but he refused to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Apartheid—racial separation—dominated domestic politics as the Nationalists gained power and imposed greater restrictions on Bantus (black Africans), Asians, and Coloreds (in South Africa the term meant any nonwhite person). Black voters were removed from the voter rolls in 1936. Over the next half-century, the nonwhite population of South Africa was forced out of designated white areas. The Group Areas Acts of 1950 and 1986 forced about 1.5 million Africans to move from cities to rural townships, where they lived in abject poverty under repressive laws.
South Africa declared itself a republic in 1961 and severed its ties with the Commonwealth, which strongly objected to the country's racist policies. The white supremacist National Party, which had first come to power in 1948, would continue its rule for the next three decades.
In 1960, 70 black protesters were killed during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpesville. The African National Congress (ANC), the principal antiapartheid organization, was banned that year, and in 1964 its leader, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Black protests against apartheid grew stronger and more violent. In 1976, an uprising in the black township of Soweto spread to other black townships and left 600 dead. Beginning in the 1960s, international opposition to apartheid intensified. The UN imposed sanctions, and many countries divested their South African holdings.
Apartheid's grip on South Africa began to give way when F. W. de Klerk replaced P. W. Botha as president in 1989. De Klerk removed the ban on the ANC and released its leader, Nelson Mandela, after 27 years of imprisonment. The Inkatha Freedom Party, a black opposition group led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, which was seen as collaborating with the apartheid system, frequently clashed with the ANC during this period.
In 1991, a multiracial forum led by de Klerk and Mandela, the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), began working on a new constitution. In 1993, an interim constitution was passed, which dismantled apartheid and provided for a multiracial democracy with majority rule. The peaceful transition of South Africa from one of the world's most repressive societies into a democracy is one of the 20th century's most remarkable success stories. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
The 1994 election, the country's first multiracial one, resulted in a massive victory for Mandela and his ANC. The new government included six ministers from the National Party and three from the Inkatha Freedom Party. A new national constitution was approved and adopted in May 1996.
In 1997 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Desmond Tutu, began hearings regarding human rights violations between 1960 and 1993. The commission promised amnesty to those who confessed their crimes under the apartheid system. In 1998, F. W. de Klerk, P.W. Botha, and leaders of the ANC appeared before the commission, and the nation continued to grapple with its enlightened but often painful and divisive process of national recovery.
Nelson Mandela, whose term as president cemented his reputation as one of the world's most farsighted and magnanimous statesmen, retired in 1999. On June 2, 1999, Thabo Mbeki, the pragmatic deputy president and leader of the ANC, was elected president in a landslide, having already assumed many of Mandela's governing responsibilities.
In his first term, Mbeki wrestled with a slumping economy and a skyrocketing crime rate. South Africa, the country with the highest number of HIV-positive people in the world (6.5 million in 2005), has been hampered in fighting the epidemic by its president's highly controversial views. Mbeki has denied the link between HIV and AIDS and claimed that the West has exaggerated the epidemic to boost drug profits. The international community as well as most South African leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, have condemned Mbeki's stance. In 2006, 60 international scientists called the government's policies “disastrous and pseudo-scientific.”
As expected, on April 15, 2004, the African National Congress won South Africa's general election in a landslide, taking about 70% of the vote, and Thabo Mbeki was sworn in for a second term.
In December 2007, African National Committee delegates chose Jacob Zuma as their leader, ousting Mbeki, who had been in control of the party for the last ten years. Zuma was acquitted of rape charges in 2006. In late December, prosecutors reopened corruption charges against Zuma and ordered him to face trial for "various counts of racketeering, money laundering, corruption, and fraud." He was accused of accepting more than $440,000 in bribes in exchange for helping a friend, Schabir Shaik, secure $5 billion in an arms deal and other government contracts. Zuma's lawyers accused Mbeki of trying to sabotage Zuma's political career. A High Court judge dismissed the corruption charges against Zuma in September 2008, saying the government mishandled the prosecution. The judge also criticized President Mbeki for attempting to influence the prosecution of Zuma.
Under pressure from leaders the African National Congress (ANC), Mbeki announced he would step down just days after Zuma was cleared. While party leader's cited Mbeki's alleged interference in the corruption case against Zuma, Mbeki's resignation culminated several years of bitter infighting between Zuma and Mbeki, which led to discord in the ANC. On Sep. 25, Parliament elected Kgalema Motlanthe, a labor leader who was imprisoned during apartheid, as president. Zuma must be a member of Parliament before he can be elected president. Parliamentary elections are expected in early 2009.
On his first day as president, Motlanthe acted to move beyond Mbeki's resistance to using modern and effective methods, such as antirretroviral medicines, to tackle its AIDS crisis by replacing South Africa's health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who has suggested that garlic, lemon juice, and beetroot could cure AIDS, with Barbara Hogan. "The era of denialism is over," she said. More than 5.7 million South Africans are HIV-positive, the highest number of any country in the world.
In November, about 6,400 dissident members of the ANC held a convention in Johannesburg and decided to form a new party that will challenge the leadership of the ANC. The delegates, many of whom supported former president Mbeki, expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership of the party, calling it corrupt, authoritarian, and "rotting." In December, the new party, the Congress of the People (COPE), selected former defense minister Mosiuoa Lekota as its president.
South African's Supreme Court reinstated corruption charges against Zuma in January 2009, saying that a lower court had "overstepped" its authority in dismissing the charges. However, the country's prosecuting authority dropped all charges against Zuma in April, about two weeks before national elections, citing “intolerable abuse” by investigators who were loyal to former president Mbeki.
In April's general election, the ruling party, the African National Congress, won overwhelming support, taking 65.9% of the vote, just shy of a two-thirds majority, which is required to change the constitution. Parliament elected Zuma president in May.
Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:27:41 -0700
Still resistance to change can run deep. South African Airways initially banned trophy cargo after a shipment of elephant tusks marked as machine parts bound for Kuala Lumpur was discovered during a stop in Australia. But since July there have been ...
New York Times
Wed, 22 Jul 2015 12:04:32 -0700
The cargo divisions of other airlines, like KLM and Lufthansa, have active bans on hunting trophies, but given trophy hunting's prevalence in southern Africa and SAA's stature as South Africa's largest airline, pressure was "immense" to remove the ...
Wed, 22 Jul 2015 23:45:00 -0700
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has served notice to organisations that flout the law with a message that the "game is over". Sars on Wednesday debuted a new container scanner at the Cape Town port, following the launch of a similar device in ...
Wed, 22 Jul 2015 23:45:00 -0700
South Africa Airways (SAA) Cargo has lifted the ban on selected hunting trophies, SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed. The decision, implemented on Monday, was confirmed by Tlali, eNCA reported. "There will be a media briefing on Thursday and a ...
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 04:48:45 -0700
Cape Town - Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs (DEA), has welcomed the lifting of an embargo by the cargo division of South Africa's national carrier, SAA, on the transport of legally acquired hunting trophies of African lion, African ...
Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:39:47 -0700
Step forward Air France, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Emirates Airline, Iberia, IAG Cargo, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa, South African Airways, Singapore Airlines and Qantas. [but see updates below re. SAA]. All of these airlines responded ...
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:26:25 -0700
The report did not give a specific cause of the fire, only suggesting an explosion cause by lithium batteries carried in the cargo compartment could not be ruled out. According to a report by South African newspaper The Witness, Boeing investigator ...
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:03:54 -0700
She welcomed a decision by the cargo division of South African Airways, the national carrier, to lift an embargo on the transport of legally acquired hunting trophies of lion, elephant, rhino and tiger. Molewa said the industry in South Africa is ...
U.S. News & World Report