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What has changed in SA since 1994?


Figures showing how the ethnic balance has changed in since the end of apartheid.

South Africa holds parliamentary and provincial elections on Wednesday, 25 years after the first all-race poll ended the apartheid era.

A man casts his vote inside a voting station in Du Noon township near Cape Town May 7, 2014.

Picture: Reuters

Here are some figures showing how the ethnic balance has changed in some economic and social spheres since the end of white minority rule in 1994.

The middle class

Only 20% of South Africans belong to the middle class, of whom 50% are black Africans, according to a 2014 study by the University of Cape Town and the department of Monitoring and Evaluation in the president’s office.

That puts the size of the black middle class at roughly 2.8 million people. In 1993 the black middle class numbered around 600 000 people, according to a study by South African history professor Colin Bundy, who taught at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of London.

South Africa’s population was 55.7 million in 2018 versus 40.4 million in 1994.


Over the past 25 years, the government has provided more than 4.7 million homes to the black elderly and the poor, according to the Department of Human Settlements. Previously there was no plan to provide black people with housing.


About 67% of commercial agricultural land is in white hands, compared with 87% before 1994, according to a 2017 report by the Institute of Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies.

Economic growth

The economy, Africa’s most industrialised, grew an estimated 0.8% in 2018 after recovering from a recession in the first half of the year when a drought hit farming but blackouts at power utility Eskom continue to drag on activity. Growth is forecast at 1.5% this year.


The unemployment rate stands at around 27%, according to Statistics South Africa. Unemployment was 29.6% in 1994, according to the World Bank citing International Labour Organisation data.

Black ownership of shares on the bourse

As of 2013, some 23% of shares in the Top-100 companies listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) were held directly by black people, the JSE said.

The increased shareholding from 1994 has been through black economic empowerment schemes meant to address the exclusion of black people from ownership under apartheid, and contributions to pension funds, unit trusts and life policies.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy was 63.4 years in 2017 and 61.8 years in 1994, according to the World Bank citing the United Nations Population Division. No breakdown was given for life expectancy among black and white South Africans.



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