Taking a bird’s-eye view over the first 30 years of democracy in South Africa, the scene below you is split almost exactly in half.

It may not always have felt so at the time, but whatever metric of social development you choose, the first 15 years were good. When the 2011 census results were published, they found that almost everyone in South Africa was better off than they had been in the mid-1990s. The incomes of the bottom two deciles had more than doubled, while the murder rate had more than halved. The democratic state had delivered electricity to more than eight out of 10 households. There were more nurses, police officers and schoolteachers per capita than ever before in the country’s history. The state had built more than 2-million houses and given them away to the poor. It had expanded pension, disability and child support coverage to the most distant corners of the land...

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