A Final Word – A Perplexing Challenging Country Return Of Political Stability

After the transition in 1994 political stability soon became the order of the day. The main explanation was a demographic one. By 2000 whites had dropped to less than 10% of the population and the Afrikaners to barely more than 5%. The transfer of political power from whites to blacks was abrupt, decisive and irreversible. The approximately  30 000 whites in the standing army in 1994 did not voice their resentments with the new order for the sake of career and retirement planning. Initially, self-censorship rather than any lack of press freedom stifled criticism. The pension proved to be mightier than the pen. The idea of a tax revolt by whites quickly dissipated with the introduction of a revenue service much tougher and efficient than the pre-1994 one.

South Africa was in many ways a new country, hardly resembling the old one in which whites filled all the top and middle-level positions. At the top a rapid process of deracialisation was under way. In the richest 20% of the population whites fell from 87% in 1975 to less than 54% in 1996 and then dropped further. But the poorest tenth of the population was still more than 90% black.

In the public schools, where middle and lower-middle class parents paid fairly high fees, racial integration increased steadily and peacefully. Although whites still predominated in these schools, a new generation was playing and learning together. The student bodies of the previously largely white universities were transformed, with blacks making up most of the undergraduate students, except on the Stellenbosch and the Potchefstroom campuses.

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