Topical Issues

First and Second Economy

The impact of Apartheid misrule expressed itself more pointedly on the economic landscape of our country. South Africa is largely divided into two economies: one sophisticated and well-adjusted to global imperatives. This level of our economy boasts a highly skilled labour force, advanced technologies, elaborate infrastructure, Information and Communication Technology and secondary industry. The Second Economy, historically occupied by black people, is largely dependent on the First Economy.

People living in the Second Economy are effectively on the margins of mainstream society. The Second Economy comprises a high unemployment rate of people locked up in rural, semi-rural and peri-urban areas without the skills needed by the economy. The Second Economy comprises low-key economic activities such as spaza shops, hawking, brewing traditional beer, selling second-hand clothes and other hand-to-mouth economic activities. With a low tax base and a tiny turn-over per annum, this economy needs concerted effort if the majority of South Africans are to be empowered to make a meaningful contribution to the growth and development of our country.

The Second Economy is disproportionately large and this imposes a burden on the First Economy. For an integrated national economy, well-geared to withstand the challenges of global trade, the Second Economy needs to be upgraded even as the First Economy is beefed up so that the later does not carve in.

Government has introduced the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in order to create employment and establish modern infrastructure, especially in areas which are falling under the category of the Second Economy.

Government has thus been careful to develop measures designed to address the state of the Second Economy steadily to lift it out of its present condition of stagnation. Some of the programmes the government has created to deal with these challenges include the following:

  • Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative-South Africa (AsgiSA) and Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA)1
  • the Early Childhood Development programme, based on community participation
  • the more extensive use of labour intensive methods of construction targeting housing, schools, clinics, sports facilities, community centres and the services infrastructure
  • business plans for the Agricultural Credit Scheme. The scheme forms part of the broader small and micro-credit initiative, to enable those formerly excluded the opportunity to access credit for productive purposes.

Moral Regeneration

The Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) was launched in Pretoria on 18 April 2002. From inception, it was emphasized that this campaign should be rooted in the provinces and metros, municipalities, districts, villages, townships and every local area, to ensure effective implementation. It is meant to entrench positive values among our communities. It is about commitment to high moral values as well as the high regard to the right to human dignity and all other human rights.

The Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) is a national campaign to reclaim the nation's higher values of, among others, moral uprightness, peace, tolerance, ethically sound lifestyles, good neighbourliness, and civic responsibilities within the context of a stable South Africa.

This campaign came about as a result of the realization that South Africa's past of Apartheid has destroyed the moral fabric of our society. Societal concerns such as crime and corruption, theft and graft, child abuse, violence against women and children, etc. continues to stain the face of the new nation and poses the danger of undermining the hard work of development and nation building.

This campaign starts from the premise that every South African must be a moral regeneration agent. Proceeding from the ground that the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa provides a framework for the realisation of the country's moral values, all South Africans need to play their part in the promotion of national morals and values. Government is working on mainstreaming moral renewal and making it part of its programmes.

Among others, Government's programmes include the promotion of a caring society, building stronger family structures, and encouraging respect and assistance for the vulnerable members of our society. They also entail the rehabilitation programmes for prisoners; encouraging debate about the role that the broadcast media and advertising industry can play in building a new value system; promoting and strengthening partnerships with communities in building safer neighbourhoods and the creation of firearm free zones. In addition, civil society structures including faith-based organisations also have many programmes in place.

Children's Rights

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Chapter 2) states that everybody has 'The right to education', proper health care and protection'. South Africa has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which spells out exactly what the rights of children are. Government has put in place measures such as the social security net to cover poor children. These measures include feeding schemes and child grants (which have been extended to a 14 year bracket). The rights of the child have also been entrenched in our Constitution (Section 28). The Sixteen Days of 'No Violence Against Women and Children' is one of these measures adopted by Government to educate society about the ills of violence and abuse of women and children in our country.

NB: International instruments are signed and then ratified by Parliament before they become binding documents.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is but one among many conscious attempts by the democratic government- after the first democratic election in 1994- to address the injustices of the Apartheid past. In the past black people were by law forbidden from certain kinds of work. A myriad of laws were enforced to ensure that only a specified section of our nation could access such important forms of employment and occupy high ranks within the labour market.

If measures such as Affirmative Action are not undertaken to address these historical inequalities, our nation would remain unequal and divided at its heart. South Africa could not have reached a stage where nation building and national reconciliation are the permanent, accepted features of our national life, without devising means to address this huge historical gap in our society. Affirmative Action will help bind the nation together by addressing the skills gap and the economic ills in the Second Economy in the context of a Developmental State.

It is about taking special measures to ensure that black people and women, along with other designated groups who had been unfairly discriminated against in the past, have real chances in life. Without such interventions, it is very hard to address the divisive, racially-defined inequality inherited from our past.


Gender oppression, like many other ills of the past, has been one of the challenges facing our new nation. Prior to the onset of the Democratic State, black women in South Africa were triply oppressed: oppressed as women, oppressed as black people and oppressed as workers. Oppressive gender relations are not a natural phenomenon but socially constructed practices. Gender relations can therefore be changed by the very society that created them.

Government has since 1994 embarked on a deliberate campaign to reverse this odious history of gender oppression. No doubt it will take a very long time of hard work before this challenge could be fully and adequately addressed.

Policies Government has introduced to tackle gender inequalities in society include equality of opportunity. The equality of opportunity approach focuses on the creation of opportunities for the empowerment of women in all the important spheres of our socio-economy. Only through this way can society learn to accept the equality of women as capable human beings deserving of equal treatment, respect and full citizenship.

African Renaissance

African Renaissance is about the renewal of Africa in terms of democratisation (clean and good governance) as well as economic, technological and cultural development. At present Africa is trapped in a vicious circle of under-development. It is arguably the most backward continent in the world on numerous fronts, including: technological development, infrastructure, Information and Communication Technologies, industrial development, financial institutions, literacy levels, medical technology etc.

The one critical condition for Africa to expedite its development trajectory is to have a sustainable recovery programme. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Africa's economic recovery blueprint, was developed with these developmental imperatives in mind. African leaders transformed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU) as a means to gear Africa to the challenges posed by globalisation. A continental body of governance, the AU was created to better lead, clarify and manage Africa's renewal. This includes good, clean governance, creating a culture of human rights, a peer review system, and championing the rights of the African continent in the international arena.

South Africa's International Relations

South Africa's foreign policy is based on our historical experience of international relations and their impact on the rest of the global society. It is largely informed by values we cherish as a nation; values such as equality, justice, non-sexism, non-racism, democracy, multilateralism and dialogue.

From these studied observations we have realized that only through the legitimacy of multilateral institutions, especially the United Nations (UN), can peace, stability, justice and prosperity be restored among nations.

South Africa takes a different view to the current global economic arrangements and practices. The apparent unwillingness by some developed nations to address the divide between the developed North and the developing South is a matter for concern.

South Africa is campaigning tirelessly for the elevation of the strategic African agenda to the top of global dialogue to ensure that the interests of the developing South receive deserved attention. We believe that, through multilateral institutions, including the trilateral leadership of India/Brazil/South Africa (IBSA) the voice of the developing world should be heard in important economic global institutions such as the G8 Forum.

As long as the rest of humanity is living in misery, squalor, and deteriorating economic conditions, so long will it be hard to address the many global ills, including racism, terrorism, under-development etc.

We believe that it is within the capability of the African continent and the rest of the developing countries to extricate themselves from economic stagmation, provided fairness, justice, and equality are the imperatives that govern global relations, politically and economically.


1. See related articles: AsgiSA Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative South Africa

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