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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Financial Times by David Pilling and Joseph Cotterill.]

At one end of the main street in Vrede, a dust-blown farming town in South Africa’s Free State province, stands a stone Dutch Reformed Church. At the other is a scattering of car-repair shops, a petrol station, a bank and a hairdresser. In between is the incongruously grand Vrede Hotel, where the clientele — almost exclusively white — is, these days, determined by out-of-reach prices rather than racist laws.

For those without work in Vrede, hardly uncommon in a province where two-thirds of black households live below the official poverty line, there’s not a lot to do. “They drink and drink and step over each other,” is how one female security guard, herself from the black township on the outskirts, puts it, poking her head through the bars of an imposing metal gate.

The gate in question, flanked by a sign showing a pistol and warning against unauthorised entry, belongs to a dairy farm located where the tarmac road ends and a dirt one begins. How money that should have been spent providing jobs on this farm ended up being lavished on a luxury wedding is a microcosm of the biggest scandal to have engulfed post-apartheid South Africa.

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.9% y/y in August 2018 (CPI) & +6.3 y/y in August 2018 (PPI)
-0.7% q/q (2nd quarter of 2018)
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