Dfid 2The British government has decided to make public its background development strategies – a very welcome move.

These cover all the countries in which the Department for International Development (DFID) operates, including South Africa.

The South African document (reproduced in part below) has to assess what the British government makes of its partners. Not all its conclusions will make comfortable reading for Pretoria.

The assessment points out that:

  • “Progress was marred by issues of access to public services and high levels of unemployment, poverty, poor maternal health indicators coupled with extreme inequality – with an inequality index rating of 0.7 the country is rated as one of the most unequal in the world.
  • “gender discrimination is still deeply pervasive within South African society – 1 in 4 women will be victims of rape.
  • “The Traditional Courts Bill, reintroduced for consideration in 2012, could entrench a number of harmful traditional practices, such as virginity testing and ukutwala (forced marriage), in law.
  • “South Africa received the lowest possible rating by the African Peer Review Mechanism in July 2012 in relation to its treatment of refugees and migrants.
  • “Incidents of police brutality, such as the Andries Tatane shooting during a service delivery protest in 2011, the Marikana mine shootings of August 2012 and the recent death in police custody of Mido Macia, led to criticism of South Africa’s record on civil and political rights.
  • “Civil and Political rights: Static with potential to deteriorate: Increased action against police abuse and the passing of the Protection of State Information Bill will be key indicators to watch in 2013.”

The document goes on to declare that both DFID and the Foreign Office will have what is described as “an on-going dialogue” with the South African government on human rights. The British promise to use ” a thematic focus through the programs described below as an entry point for addressing key concerns and working together to achieve mutual goals.”

It is far from clear that this gobbledygook means in practice, but Pretoria is unlikely to welcome any such peering over its shoulder. With President Jacob Zuma already campaigning for next year’s general election, this is a particularly sensitive time.

The British developmental assessment of South Africa

From the Operational Plan 2011 – 2015

The UK recognises that the realisation of all human rights underpins sustainable development. Through its development programmes , the UK aims to support civil society and governments to build open economies and open societies in which citizens have freedom, dignity, choice and control over their lives; and institutions that are accountable, inclusive and responsive.

Human Rights Context:

Economic and social rights:

Despite slower progress in MDG’s 1 (poverty and hunger), 4 (child mortality) and 5 (maternal health), South Africa remains on track to meet a majority of its MDG targets by 2015. There has been notable progress in tackling HIV included access to Anti Retro Viral treatments from 500,000 in 2008 to 1.9 million in 2012 and decreases in mother to child transmission. The school enrolment MDG target has been achieved with literacy and completion targets on track.

Progress was marred by issues of access to public services and high levels of unemployment, poverty, poor maternal health indicators coupled with extreme inequality – with an inequality index* rating of 0.7 the country is rated as one of the most unequal in the world. Unemployment remains extremely high at 33% and the last recorded World Bank headcount poverty was 23% in 2006. South Africa scores 0.629 and is rated at 121 of 186 countries on the 2012 Human Development Index (HDI) moving up 1 place since 2011.

Non-Discrimination:

South Africa ranks at 90 in the 2012 UNDP gender inequality index, scoring 0.462; it has already achieved or likely to achieve all MDG gender equality indicators.

Despite progress, a very high prevalence of gender-based violence suggests that gender discrimination is still deeply pervasive within South African society –

1 in 4 women will be victims of rape. The Traditional Courts Bill, reintroduced for consideration in 2012, could entrench a number of harmful traditional practices, such as virginity testing and ukutwala (forced marriage), in law. The Constitution provides strong legal protection for minority rights.

South Africa continued to show positive leadership at the UN on LGBT rights, sponsoring a resolution at the Human Rights Commission on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender identity. Those who have jobs face sharp disparities in wage earnings based on race, gender, location and union membership. Geographic location and education are also now key predictors of inequality of access to services and employment. South Africa received the lowest possible rating by the African Peer Review Mechanism in July 2012 in relation to its treatment of refugees and migrants.

Civil and Political Rights:

Freedom House 2013 index rates South Africa as ‘Free’ and rates it as 2 (1 being most free, 7 being least free) in the index and was ranked 69 of 176 countries

surveyed in Transparency International’s (TI) 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, but the country had dropped 5 places in the TI index since 2011 and allegations of corruption at the local and national level are common. Incidents of police brutality, such as the Andries Tatane shooting during a service delivery protest in 2011, the Marikana mine shootings of August 2012 and the recent death in police custody of Mido Macia, led to criticism of South Africa’s record on civil and political rights.

Despite this, the South African Institute of Security Studies report that between 2011 and 2012 reported incidents of offences by police actually fell by 7% from the previous year to 2,320. Proposed legislation potentially limiting freedom of expression and granting greater powers to intelligence agencies continues to be widely contested by civil society and some parliamentarians, despite amendments made after previous scrutiny in 2012. The Universal Periodic Review reported in July 2012 and the Government provided a response via an addendum accepting 120 and rejecting 14 of 151 recommendations put forward.

Implementation of recommendations will be reviewed at the next UPR process (date to be confirmed).

Direction of travel:

Economic and Social Rights:

Improving: Progress against MDG targets in health and education is positive. Slower than expected economic growth and equitable access to public services remain major challenges.

Non-discrimination:

Static: The Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities and other key agencies are under-resourced to tackle the problem and greater high level commitment and political will is needed. More equal access to public services and better job and education opportunities are central to South Africa’s blueprint for inclusive economic growth, launched in 2013

Civil and Political rights:

Static with potential to deteriorate: Increased action against police abuse and the passing of the Protection of State Information Bill will be key indicators to watch in 2013. There is significant tension around civil and political rights, characterised by the struggle between the ANC, its coalition partner Cosatu and an alliance of media and civil society over the substance and approach to human rights in South Africa.

UK approach and focus:

Both DFID and the FCO have an on-going dialogue with South Africa on human rights, using a thematic focus through the programs described below as an entry point for addressing key concerns and working together to achieve mutual goals.

Economic and Social Rights: DFID bilateral support to health includes improving universal access to health, tackling HIV/AIDS, support to Reproductive Maternal and Child Health and improving access to pharmaceuticals. Wealth creation programmes support economic growth through infrastructure along key trade corridors and piloting innovations to improve access to finance for the poor in South Africa.

 Non-Discrimination:

DFID supports a 3-year programme to prevent violence against women and children in partnership with UNICEF.

 Accountability and transparency:

DFID and the FCO support accountability and transparency through civil society in South Africa and the region. South Africa is a founding member with the UK of the ‘Open Government Partnership.

Civil and political rights:

The FCO works with the South African Police Service (SAPS) through UK technical support and funding.

* The Gini coefficient measures income