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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: The New York Times by Imraan Coovadia.]

Summer break in December and January brought a much needed pause in the unrest at South Africa’s universities. Protests have been continuous here since March 9, 2015, when students demanded the removal of the statue of the British colonizer Cecil John Rhodes from the campus of the University of Cape Town, where I work.

Seen as the symbol of a colonial past, the Rhodes statue found few defenders and was soon removed. The Rhodes Must Fall movement turned into Fees Must Fall, which besieged Parliament and brought a welcome reduction in tuition.

Black college students outnumber white students four to one and now are a majority on the best-funded campuses. The changes in demography have created new opportunities, but also an opening for radicalization.

And now, a movement founded on a repudiation of colonial monuments is pushing for an unsustainable policy of free higher education and a wholesale cultural transformation. The government doesn’t have the 60 billion rand ($4.5 billion) a year necessary to abolish tuition. Economic growth has fallen to 0.5 percent, unemployment is the highest in more than a decade, and businesses are trying to leave the country. In December, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s came close to downgrading it to junk status.

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South Africa at a Glance
58 780 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.5% y/y in June 2019 (CPI) & +5.8 y/y in June 2019 (PPI)
-3.2% q/q (1st quarter of 2019)
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