Friday, April 18, 2014

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South Africans Still Face Equality Hurdles In Post-Mandela World

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With the passing of Nelson Mandela many in South Africa and around the world are wondering which direction the country will go in now. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

South Africa like others countries has its very rich and its very poor. But the majority are poor and black, still looking for equality post Apartheid.

"Much has been accomplished here in South Africa over the last two decades but there are important challenges ahead, some acute challenges on healthcare, and education and on the economy," said U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard.

The Thembani Fund is trying to do its part by providing financing and collateral for entrepreneurs, especially women in rural areas.

"To get them to a point where they are self-sustaining. And we've always seen this to be one with the dreams of Mandela of seeing everybody economically free," said Thembani International Guarantee Fund CEO Phindile Spies.

In poor areas there is a high crime rate. Many attribute it to staggering unemployment and a lack of opportunity. There are still shanty towns or informal settlements with makeshift homes on unoccupied land usually of old gold or mineral mines.

On the day NY1 visited an informal settlement site people where people were going about their daily lives. Some were trying to make money they best way they can. Some men had purchased some old wood and which they were turning into cabinets and bed frames. Women could also be seen cleaning chicken intestines to sell.

On a political level, there's plenty of allegations of government corruption. The U.S. ambassador says the people are paying attention to all of this.

"There is a very active and vibrant civil society in this country. There is a robust media that is asking all of the right questions and there are members of the government who themselves are stepping back and talking about how to carry Nelson Mandela's legacy," Gaspard said.

Teenagers who spoke with NY1 at a memorial for Mandela were optimistic about the future of their country.

"As a 15-year-old, obviously I hope for prosperity since he has left his legacy here. I think we have to carry what he has left before us," said Lesedi Pooe, a South African resident.

And they say the government and people must focus on education. Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

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