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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Ten years of democracy in South Africa: Your views

We discussed the elections in Talking Point with the South African High Commissioner in UK, Ms Lindiwe Mabuza and former President FW de Klerk.

President Thabo Mbeki has been sworn in for a second term in office on a day of celebration in South Africa - marking 10 years of multi-racial democracy.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, has also joined foreign dignitaries at the ceremony on the grounds of Pretoria's Union Building.

Mbeki and the African National Congress won a landslide victory in South Africa's third democratic election on April 14.

What do you remember about the collapse of apartheid? How has life changed in the last ten years? How did you vote in the election?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of the opinion we have received:

South Africa's report card must read "most likely to succeed"
Noel Southgate, London
South Africa is a shinning example of true democracy at work. With a society which is forgiving and forward looking, surely South Africa's report card must read "most likely to succeed".
Noel Southgate, London

When I see so many living in poverty or dying of AIDS, I am ashamed that so much money is being wasted on a party. When the invited guests include Mugabe, I wonder at the morality of our elected leaders.
Msmo, Muizenberg, South Africa

It is interesting that most negative comments in this log came from non-South Africans, while all South Africans or people who have lived there have something good to say about these celebrations. People who had never experienced the violations of their more essential rights could hardly understand the miracle of slipping a ticket into a ballot box. Ten years is a short span of time to undone the enormous curse of Apartheid. But the ANC has achieved more in this ten years than it could be reasonable expected. This is party time, the whole world should celebrate now, keep criticism for the rest of the year. Amandla, awethu!
Oscar Chamosa, Fredonia, NY, USA

The re-appointment of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as health minister suggests that the widespread protests against her policies on HIV/Aids have fallen on deaf ears, further calling into question president Mbeki's dedication to the South African poor, who constitute the majority of those infected with HIV.
Jarad, Cape Town, RSA

South Africans can stand tall
Paul, Cape Town, South Africa
As a Zimbabwean-born person living in Cape Town for 12 years, I beam with pride at the ability of so many South Africans to move forward with positive attitude and dignity. If you understand how the racist apartheid government sought to demean, brutalise and negate black Africans, you'll know how amazing 10 years of freedom can be. In these days of warmongering, lies and viciousness, South Africans can stand tall. Long may they push for and win greater freedoms.
Paul, Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa still has a long way to go. Even with blacks gaining more political and economic leverage, the white population still controls the purse strings and wealth gap keeps getting wider. There is also AIDS. American drug companies need to put people before profits.
Evan, Wisconsin, USA

Celebrating "Freedom Day" has been made an absolute mockery by the invitation given to Robert Mugabe.
Amanda, UK

I am so happy and so proud to be South African. I know it's going to take a while for the bridge the gap between the poor and wealthy, the educated and non educated. I am very optimistic about the future of South Africa. We have grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade and have shown the world we can't be stopped. I strongly believe Amandla Awethu! (The power/strength is Ours!)
Serati Mathibela, Atlanta, US

Democracy? Is that what you call it? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer
Ronald McKenzie, UK
Democracy? Is that what you call it? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The divide in South Africa is widening as rising unemployment is reaching unacceptable levels. Racism still exists because the whites and the blacks don't trust each other. I was in Pretoria two years ago and there is a lot of posturing and window dressing going on.
Ronald McKenzie, UK

The test of whether this is a real democracy will come when the ruling party faces the possibility of losing a free and fair election. Will they be able to relinquish power lawfully or will the general pattern of Africa prevail: permanent one-party rule?
Kurt, Baton Rouge, USA

The presence of Robert Mugabe at these freedom celebrations might serve as a warning of things to come. What might be on Mbeki's agenda once Nelson Mandela has left the world? Why is the SA government supporting the inequality of political apartheid in Zimbabwe, when it was fighting against the inequality of racial apartheid? One wonders if there is a hidden agenda!
Daniel Rein, Lonson, England

Congratulations to the ANC! I hope after 10 years of reverse discrimination they can now remove all racial barriers and make South Africa a truly equal society where citizens are rewarded on merit rather than race.
Juanita, London

There is no democracy and never will be
Paul P, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Crime, corruption, AIDS, poverty, nepotism. Just a few adjectives to describe South Africa. People who have never lived there do not know the tribalism involved in African politics. There is no democracy and never will be.
Paul P, Phoenix, AZ, USA

As an American who has Visited South Africa to investigate the HIV Pandemic, I say three cheers for the S.A. Healthcare workers who face perhaps the greatest Healthcare challenge on earth with virtually no real support from Thabo Mbeki and his deliberately indecisive government. Three cheers for the Zulu Nation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, who have taken more initiative than the established S.A. government. Democracy is as easily manipulated as information. Mbeki has taken the liberty of deceiving his people about both the seriousness of HIV and about the possibilities for combating it.
Brendan Harnett, Butler, PA, USA

In a country of 40 million, half of whom survive below the poverty line, does it seem acceptable to spend 60 million Rand on re-election celebrations? I am, and always will be proudly South African, even if I live abroad, but surely government could spend this more wisely?
Tony, London, ex Johannesburg

I pray this really is Africa's democratic dawn chorus
R.C. Robjohn, UK
Perhaps we should comment when they are celebrating the centenary - so far so good. I pray this really is Africa's democratic dawn chorus.
R.C. Robjohn, UK

Having spent most of the last 10 years as a South African living abroad, I am encouraged by the positive attitudes most South Africans have towards nation building. Yes, there are problems which equate to mountains to climb but the biggest obstacle has already been dealt with and that was the transformation to democracy ten years ago. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Equally, very few (including myself) thought that it would be so successful thus far.
Guy, London

How can a state be democratic when it has become a 1 party state
Andrew Hardie, St Andrews, United Kingdom
10 years of democracy? That's a joke. How can a state be democratic when it has become a 1 party state. The Zulu's and whites have their votes swamped by the Black South African's who only support the ANC because it is the 'black party' rather than the ability of the ANC to govern well. Just look at the way the current AIDs crisis has been managed, couple this with the increasing crime rates and laughable foreign policy. South Africa is run by third rate politicians who are only in power because of their colour, hmm did they not have that situation 10 years ago?
Andrew Hardie, St Andrews, United Kingdom

It is sincerely worth celebrating this Day. If I could have it done, today would have been proclaimed "Nelson Mandela's Birth Day!" South Africa has made a history of producing the first living President of the World. I leave you all to argue it out.
Kolawole Raheem, Finland

How hypocritical it is to celebrate democracy Day, and then invite Robert Mugabe as one of the guests
Stephen, London

The people of South Africa fought for this
Gale Molema, Mafikeng, South Africa

The people of South Africa fought for this, now it is time for the to celebrate 10 years of democracy. Even if we have a long way go praise must go to the South Africans.
Gale Molema, Mafikeng, South Africa

Considering all the poverty, disease and crime within the state, it is obscene that they are spending millions on Champagne and hospitality. The money would be better spent on assisting the people.
Ken Collins, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, England

Having lived there in the fifties and being ashamed of being white, I can only thank God I lived to see them free. Bush and Blair should take a leaf out of Mr. Mandela's book.
Johanna Moren, Sunnemo, Sweden

It is more than disturbing that a man who has neglected South Africa's biggest problem, AIDS, should be re-elected so triumphantly. With more than 15% of the population suffering from AIDS Mr. Mbeki's denial of the problem is staggering to behold.
Richard, Sweden

I was fortunate to work in Cape Town for three years (1998 -2001). What a country full of truly passionate people, vibrancy and the most beautiful landscapes in the world! I am thrilled to see the country progressing down its path to freedom. I am also terribly upset by the effect of Aids pandemic on the country and the reports of families of orphans left alone. It is my ambition to return to help however I can but meanwhile I sponsor a child through a charity organisation from here. Good luck!
Andrew, Perth, Australia

It is however a requirement for a healthy democracy to harbour an even healthier opposition all the same
Ciru, Nairobi

It's no fault of the ANC that South Africans, or at least the native South Africans are not so enthusiastic about an opposition party with a majority of white leaders. Memories of the past continue to haunt them. It is however a requirement for a healthy democracy to harbour an even healthier opposition all the same. Congratulations South Africa!
Ciru, Nairobi, Kenya.

The swing from the 'conciliatory' NNP to the 'confrontational' DA is a sad development. What SA needs now is for all groups to work together to undo past injustices.
Garth, Harare, Zimbabwe

First of all I want to give cheers to Thabo Mbeki for his re-election. Even if the ANC has captured all the votes, the way the election was undertook is a real sign that the democracy has taken a step forwards in South Africa. The young democracy in South Africa has just to be careful and built a good future for the new generation without discrimination. The past is turned and now they have to join their hands together for a better nation. I think the people in South Africa - without distinction of colour -deserve this.
Marius Younbi, Accra, Ghana

This is good for African development. I salute you Mr Mbeki. Lead your sheep down a path of economic supremacy.
Greenwell Matchaya, Lilongwe, Malawi

I was a little disappointed in the way the IEC handled the logistical problems by sweeping them under the carpet. I was also amazed at how few of my fellow passengers had actually voted (we could tell from the black mark placed on fingers!) I also hear no comments about the insane amount of money the government is planning to spend on the celebrations for 10 years of democracy - while at the same time promising to eradicate poverty. This money could have been more profitably spent elsewhere.
Carolyn, Durban, RSA


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