Nearly two decades after the apartheid system of government ended in South Africa, its legacy still remains.
South Africa’s political and economic influence is growing: it has become a regional and continental powerhouse, and is a member of the G20, the UN Security Council and is chair of the Africa Union. The country joined the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of major emerging economies in 2010.
Yet inequality is prevalent and some 20 million people continue to live on or below the poverty line.
HIV: South Africa is home to more people living with HIV than any other country. An estimated 5.6 million South Africans are currently living with the virus. Stigma and discrimination still present a barrier to effective testing and treatment and so hundreds of people die every day because of HIV.
Inequality: South Africa’s progressive new constitution, adopted after the end of apartheid, offers the opportunity to redress power but racial injustice and discrimination persists in all walks of life. As a result South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world.
Climate change: South Africa’s semi-arid environment leaves it vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Experts predict that prolonged dry spells and intense storms will lead to an increase in droughts and floods. Many South Africans who depend on agriculture to feed their families could be severely affected by any changes to the climate.
Christian Aid works in South Africa to tackle the structures that perpetuate inequality and poverty. Through our partners, whose work is informed by the experience of poor South Africans, we help the poorest and most marginalised communities fight for the change that will benefit many hundreds of thousands of people at a national level.
Our South African partners work on social and economic justice issues including campaigning for support for those living with HIV or for welfare provision for the elderly and vulnerable. We also support campaigns on climate change and tax at national and international level.
'Christian Aid partners were instrumental in bringing about an end to apartheid', says Rob Cunningham, Christian Aid's country manager for South Africa.
'We now remain in solidarity with our partners to ensure that South Africa fulfils its potential as the success story and the leading light that Africa - and the wider world - expects and hopes it to be.'
The AIDS Consortium monitors the implementation of South Africa’s national plan on HIV and ensures it is effectively delivered. They advocate on issues affecting those living with HIV, successfully lobbying the government to change its policy on when people with the virus could access a disability grant.
BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) works on issues such as sweatshop labour, pollution control and HIV education and support. It promotes ethical investment by churches and works to influence the conduct of multinational companies. In 2012, after police fired on striking miners in Marikana, BMF’s chair Bishop Jo Seoka was instrumental in bringing together miners and the company that owned the mine to broker a deal.
Christian Aid is working with partners including the Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa to ensure healthcare within South Africa is funded by effective and fair taxation. The campaign is already building momentum through a coalition of organisations working for tax justice in South Africa.
What you can do
Listen: Audioboo podcast discussing how Christian Aid’s ACT Alliance partners in South Africa have been campaigning to end violence against women.
Watch: YouTube video exploring Christian Aid's work on the issues faced by those living with HIV, including children orphaned by the virus.