South Africans go to the polls this week to vote for a new government at a time when they are celebrating 20 years of democracy. But amid the national celebrations, the economy remains a subject of debate.
Although the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, looks set to be re-elected, there are many economic issues that the South African people hope it will tackle.
Since 1996, the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) programme has been the central economic programme. The idea was to stimulate growth above 6%, which in turn would lead to 500,000 jobs being created. Between 1996 and 2008, South Africa’s economy did grow, but at an average of 3.2%.
Since the financial crisis, growth has slowed even further – in 2013 the economy grew 1.9% – a snail’s pace compared with other emerging markets. Unemployment has also risen to 24%, with jobs seen as the biggest concern among young South Africans ahead of the election.