E 1994, more than 19 million South Africans, roughly 91 percent of registered voters, went to the polls, most for the first time, and elected South Africa's first democratic government. The establishment of a government led by the African National Congress (ANC), under the presidency of Nelson Mandela, signaled emphatically the demise of apartheid and the return of South Africa from the pariah status it had occupied for decades to a respected place in the world community. The change was as swift as it was dramatic. Only five years earlier, in 1989, barely one-eighth as many voters (roughly 69 percent of an electorate restricted by law to members of the white, mixed-race "coloured," and Asian communities) had returned to power those who were committed to maintaining apartheid. The African majority was, until then, explicitly denied full citizenship rights on the basis of skin color. The ANC was an illegal organization, as it had been since April 1960. Nelson Mandela in 1989 was spending his twenty-sixth year in prison. The fact that South Africa went on to overturn the apartheid ideology and, in large part, apartheid practices between 1989 and 1994 was a stunning development, unforeseen by political forecasters and paralleling the overthrow of communism in Eastern Europe.conomy based on market-oriented, private enterprise, bolstered by state subsidies; traditionally strong public sector undergoing initial privatization
Fearful of growing instability in South Africa, many foreign investors began to withdraw their money or to move it into short-term rather than long-term investments; as a result, the economy became increasingly sluggish. In order to cope with labor unrest and to boost investor confidence, the government decided in 1979 to allow black workers to establish unions as a necessary step toward industrial peace.
Mining and Minerals: Mining based on unparalleled reserves: gold, diamonds, platinum, chromium, manganese, vanadium; also coal, iron ore, uranium, copper, silver, fluorspar, asbestos, limestone. Mineral concentrations greatest in Gauteng, Northern Province, Mpumalanga. One offshore oilfield, further exploration underway.
Manufacturing: Steel, steel products, chemicals, electronics, automobiles, textiles, paper, food processing. Strong growth in export-oriented manufacturing, increasing capacity utilization, mid-1990s. Substantial foreign investment. Factors favoring investment: broad technological base, highly trained managerial class, abundant labor supply, specialized financial institutions. Factors countering investment: abundance of unskilled, uneducated workers; crime, violence; labor militancy.