||The policy of spatial separation of the races, as applied in South Africa after the National Party assumed political control in 1948, but now dismantled. Under the Population Registration Act, all South Africans were classified as members of one of four race groups: black (population almost 30 million in the early 1990s before the end of apartheid), white (5 million), coloured (3.5 million) and asian (1 million). race provided the basis for separate political institutions, in both national and local government and racial discrimination resulted in marked inequalities in levels of living, with whites better-off overall, blacks worst-off, and, between them, Asians generally faring better than coloureds. (See also racism.)
Apartheid, as originally implemented, operated at three spatial scales: personal, within residential space in towns and cities, and at the national level. Personal discrimination with respect to use of such public facilities as parks, theatres, transportation and lavatories was generally referred to as \'petty apartheid\'. The extent of this form of discrimination had been reduced in the 1980s, before the abolition of the Separate Amenities Act removed its legal basis. Apartheid at the town or city level was implemented via the Group Areas Act, under which each portion of urban residential space was allocated for the exclusive occupation of a single race group. This ensured the perpetuation of almost complete residential segregation by race. However, integration was taking place in so-called \'grey areas\' of the larger cities for some years before the repeal of the Group Areas Act.
The most important aspect of apartheid was at the national level, where ten so-called \'homelands\' (or \'Bantustans\') were designated for the occupation of the major black or African tribal groups. All blacks were supposed to exercise their \'political rights\' in their respective homelands, which were ultimately to become independent states. Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda were granted \'independence\', though this was not recognized by the United Nations or any government outside South Africa. The homelands were reincorporated into the post-apartheid South African state.
The South African government originally claimed that apartheid (sometimes known as \'separate development\' or \'multi-nationalism\') enabled racial harmony and the rights of all groups to be protected in a heterogeneous, pluralistic society (see plural society; pluralism). The homelands were supposed to give blacks their independence from white rule, and the same rights that the whites enjoyed in their (white) residual Republic. A more plausible explanation was that apartheid enabled the whites to maintain their cultural identity, political power and exploitation of black labour, by associating race with separation, externalizing the black franchise and using the homelands as cheap labour reserves.
International economic sanctions played a part in the eventual abandonment of apartheid. However, the system was already breaking down from within, well before the release of the African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela in February 1990 and the legalization of the ANC and other opposition groups. Erosion of petty apartheid and residential segregation was accelerating, and the distinction between the homelands and white South Africa had always been artificial from an economic point of view (half the black population lived in \'White South Africa\', mainly in the cities where the jobs were, and large numbers were also drawn from the homelands as migrant workers or commuters). By the early 1980s it was clear that restrictions known as \'influx control\' could not prevent increasing numbers of blacks settling in and around the metropolitan areas, especially the Witwatersrand (centred on Johannesburg), Cape Town and Durban. Millions came to live in informal \'shack\' settlements on the peri-urban fringe as well as in the older townships (see also squatter settlement). Thus the legitimacy of the homelands as providing for the political rights of blacks was increasingly called into question. And rising tension in the cities expressed in violent unrest made apartheid society increasingly difficult to control.
The first non-racial elections in 1994 replaced the Nationalist Party (NP) rule by a government in which the ANC were in the majority. Nelson Mandela became President. Initially the ANC operated in partnership with the NP, but the latter subsequently withdrew from the coalition which had helped to ensure a peaceful transfer of power under which the white population enjoyed protection from the large-scale redistribution of property which many of them had feared at the hands of a black majority government. Negotiations were set in motion for the design of a new constitution, with a bill of rights, under which further elections would take place in 1999.
Whatever the final outcome of this process, the legacy of apartheid will take decades to eradicate. South Africa\'s towns and cities remain highly segregated, as few blacks can afford to move into white areas. However, black residential space is becoming increasingly differentiated by class, in a process originally referred to as \'deracialized apartheid\'. Whites, along with the better-off members of other race groups, have been able to protect some of their privileges on a neighbourhood basis, while the best a growing number of the black population can hope for is to build houses of their own, with some state subsidy, in one of the \'shack cities\'.
The decade since the release of Nelson Mandela has thus been somewhat of a disappointment for those expecting the rapid erosion of the geography of apartheid. When the ANC came to power, they adopted a comprehensive development strategy set out in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP for short), which quickly became an almost unchallenged orthodoxy. This prioritized the basic needs of the poor (mainly black) population, who had suffered such discrimination under apartheid. Ambitious targets were set for the construction of new houses, along with improvements in infrastructure and in the provision of education and health services for the poor. However, despite some successes (e.g. in the provision of rural water supply and a school nutrition programme in some areas), the implementation of the RDP was from the outset frustrated by resource constraints exacerbated by so many competing programmes, and by administrative inefficiency accompanied by some corrupt practices. One of the major failures was in housing, with the further growth of informal settlements substituting for what was originally hoped to be formal housing for all.
The latter part of the 1990s saw the downgrading and effective abandonment of the RDP, in favour of a new macro-economic strategy set out in a document Growth, Employment, and Redistribution (GEAR) published in 1996. This is much more in tune with the neo-liberal policies of such agencies as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, with their preference for free-market solutions involving competition, deregulation, flexible labour markets, restrictions on public spending, and other policies thought to be attractive to foreign capital. This strategy contrasts with the more pro-active state involvement required by the RDP. Post-apartheid South Africa has thus adopted a new development orthodoxy, which might increase the country\'s attraction to international investors in the competitive global economy, but which seems unlikely to generate the kind of benefits for the poor which were supposed to accompany the end of apartheid. In this sense, post-apartheid South Africa increasingly resembles so-called underdeveloped countries with highly unequal distributions of income and wealth â€” albeit incorporating distinctive features inherited from the apartheid era. The main uncertainties are how fast the economy can grow, to keep up with population growth and assist redistribution, and how much of the post-apartheid political freedom will survive the control of unfulfilled material expectations on the part of the majority poor (and black) population.Â (DMS)
Suggested Reading Lemon, A., ed., 1991: Homes apart: South Africa\'s divided cities. London: Paul Chapman.Â Lemon, A., ed., 1995: The geography of change in South Africa. Chichester : John Wiley.Â Parnell, S. 1997: South African cities: perspectives from the ivory tower of urban studies. Urban Studies 35: 891-9 06.Â Pickles, J. and Weiner, D., eds, 1991: Rural and regional restructuring in South Africa. Special issue of Antipode, 23 (1).Â Simon, D. 1990: Crisis and change in South Africa: implications for the apartheid city. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS14 : 198-206.Â Smith, D.M. 1990: Apartheid in South Africa, 3rd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Update series, Department of Geography, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London).Â Smith, D.M., ed, 1992: The apartheid city and beyond: urbanization in contemporary South Africa. London: Routledge.Â Smith, D.M. 1994: Geography and social justice. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, ch. 8.Â Smith, D.M. 1995: Geography, social justice and the new South Africa. South African Geographical Journal 77: 1-5.Â Robinson, J. 1995: The power of the apartheid state: power and space in South African cities. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.Â Rogerson, C.M. and Rogerson, J.M. 1997: The changing post-apartheid city: emergent black-owned enterprise in Johannesburg. Urban Studies 34: 85-10 3.