On Geopolitics

South Africa Faces a Downward Spiral

Stephen Rakowski
Sub-Saharan Africa Analyst, Stratfor
Sep 26, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
South African law enforcement officers clash with looters during xenophobic violence and looting on Sept. 2, 2019, in Johannesburg.

South African law enforcement officers clash with looters during xenophobic violence and looting on Sept. 2, 2019, in Johannesburg. Xenophobic violence is just one of the myriad problems facing South Africa.

(THULANI MBELE/Sowetan/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

"We are sorry for what happened," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told a group of workers earlier this month in Durban. "Our image, our standing and our integrity [were] negatively affected." Ramaphosa offered the heartfelt mea culpa following yet another wave of xenophobic riots across South Africa, yet presidential apologies are unlikely to stanch more violence directed against foreigners there -- or cure the deeper malaise that drives the unrest. That's because successive governments in Pretoria have failed to foster essential economic growth in South Africa, which posted an eye-popping unemployment rate of 29 percent earlier this year. Every week, thousands of its citizens are forced into unemployment or underemployment in the extensive black market. ...

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