South Africa Religion

In South Africa, freedom of religion prevails and there are no apparent contradictions between practitioners of different religions.

About four-fifths of the population profess Christian faith. There are also Muslims, Hindus and Jews as well as many who practice traditional African religions, which attach great importance to the spirits of the ancestors. A mixture of Christian teachings and traditional African religion is common.

The largest group of Christians are Protestants, most of whom are Methodists, Anglicans or Reformers.

The South African Church Council includes most major Christian communities. The Council played a prominent role in the non-violence struggle against racial segregation policy, apartheid, which was applied in South Africa from 1948 onwards. The Church Council also contributed to the work of national reconciliation when the apartheid system was scrapped in the early 1990s.

A key figure in the fight against racial segregation policy was the Anglican Church’s former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who in 1984 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. The Catholic Church also won respect for its uncompromising attitude towards apartheid.

The Dutch Reformed church was previously dominated by whites and the church supported apartheid until the 1980s. Nowadays, a majority of its members are non-white.

South Africa Population Pyramid 2020

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in South Africa, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.



Court requires rules to dismiss the president

December 29

The Constitutional Court criticizes Parliament for not holding President Zuma responsible for renovating his private property with state money (see March 2014). The Court also announces that Parliament has violated the Constitution by failing to formulate rules on how an incumbent president may be deposed. MEPs are urged to do so immediately. A statement by Parliament said that such a process is now underway.

Land reform is being accelerated

December 21

In his first speech after being elected to the ruling party ANC’s new leader, Cyril Ramaphosa says to eradicate corruption in the country and carry out a “radical economic transformation”, among other things, by allowing the state to confiscate land without compensating the owners. In this way, the ANC hopes to accelerate the redistribution of land from white farmers to blacks, a process that has so far slowed down (see Agriculture). The ANC Congress decides to initiate amendments to the Constitution in that direction.

Ramaphosa new leader for ANC

December 18

ANC holds congress and selects Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa as new party chairman after President Zuma who is not allowed to run for a new term. Ramaphosa receives 2,440 votes. The counter candidate, Zuma’s former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, wins 2,261 votes. Zuma manages to get several of his allies into the new party leadership, including David Mabuza who will become vice party chairman.

The Supreme Court is pushing Zuma

December 8

The Supreme Court rejects President Zuma’s election of state prosecutor and assigns Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint a new one within 60 days. The current state prosecutor, Shaun Abrahams, was appointed by Zuma in 2015 and has been accused of protecting the president’s interests. The court ruling becomes public just before Abrahams would announce whether the prosecutor’s office intended to continue the corruption charges against Zuma or not (see also October 13, 2017). Five days later, the Supreme Court gives Zuma a reprimand for opposing the country’s anti-corruption authority. According to the court, the president has not addressed the widespread problems reported by the authority. Instead, he has questioned the authority’s recommendations. HD is now ordering Zuma to launch a legal investigation into the allegations against him and his employees within a month.


Farmers march against violence

October 30th

Thousands of farmers participate in demonstrations in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. They demand that the government do something to stop the attacks on white landowners. According to the farmers’ interest organization AfriForum, the number of attacks on white farmers has steadily increased over the past six years. In 2017, 72 landowners were murdered, says AfriForum. South African officials believe the figure is exaggerated.

White landowners get jail for attempted murder of black man

October 27th

Two white landowners, Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen, are sentenced to long prison terms for forcing a black man into a coffin and threatening to set fire to it. The assault was filmed with a mobile phone and the movie clip, where the victim prays for his life, triggered strong reactions in the country. Jackson and Oosthuizen are found guilty of assault, kidnapping and attempted murder and receive 14 and 11 years in prison respectively. The duo motivated their actions by scaring the man they accused of stealing copper cables from their property. According to the judge, the accused showed no signs of remorse during the trial.

Zuma kicks critics

October 17

President Zuma dismisses the Minister of Higher Studies, Communist Blade Nzimande, who has long openly criticized the president. The Communist Party SACP criticizes the dismissal and says it risks leading to the split between the ANC, SACP and the national organization Cosatu. ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe “regrets” the dismissal of Nzimande.

Prayed for prosecution against President Zuma

October 13

The Supreme Court of Appeal decides that charges can be brought against President Zuma for corruption in connection with the big arms deal in 1999, when South Africa bought weapons for five billion dollars from five European companies, including the Swedish JAS plan. In connection with the arms deal, Zuma is charged with 783 points for various forms of corruption, fraud and money laundering. The Prosecutor General’s Office will now decide whether to prosecute. Originally, the allegations were drawn up as early as 2005 but were discontinued in 2009. They are now being re-enacted at the request of the opposition party Democratic Alliance.


Trade union members train against Zuma

September 27th

Tens of thousands of trade unionists demonstrate across the country demanding President Zuma’s departure. The demonstrations are led by the country’s largest trade union Cosatu, which is formally allied with the Zuma party ANC in the government but which has recently begun to openly criticize the president. The protesters accuse Zuma of carrying out massive corruption of the state’s assets through corruption.

The opposition is trying to get the national court process going

September 5

The opposition is asking the Constitutional Court to open an investigation to find out if President Zuma is guilty of something that would justify his being brought before state law.


Grace Mugabe gets prosecutorial immunity

20th of August

South African Foreign Ministry gives legal immunity to Grace Mugabe, who has been reported to police for abusing a photo model at a hotel in Johannesburg. The abuse must have taken place when Mrs Mugabe discovered that the photo model was hanging out with her two grown sons. Grace Mugabe returns to Harare with her husband President Mugabe. The opposition is strongly critical of Mrs Mugabe being granted freedom of prosecution and being allowed to leave the country.

Trying to put aside Zuma fails

August 8th

The opposition’s distrust vote against President Zuma is supported by 177 members. To cast him off, another 24 votes were required.
Zuma has survived several vote of confidence during his presidency, but this was the first time the vote was secret. At least 30 of the ANC’s 246 MPs are estimated to have voted against Zuma.


Sisulu wants to lead the ANC

July 16

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is the first to publicly announce that she is running for president of the ANC at the party congress in December. According to the etheric media company SABC, at least six departments within the ANC have nominated her. Lindiwe Sisulu belongs to one of the most famous families from the struggle against apartheid. Her parents Walter and Albertina were both prominent ANC members.

Communists exclude Zuma

July 11

The South African Communist Party SACP, which is closely allied with the ANC, bans President Zuma from speaking at the party’s impending congress. The SACP wants to avoid the Congress being disturbed by loud protests, as happened at a May meeting when the president was forced to interrupt a speech. The Communist Party belongs to those who called for Zuma to step down.

ICC dots South Africa

July 6

The International Criminal Court (ICC) states that the Government of South Africa breached its commitments when it failed to arrest Sudan’s suspected criminal al-Bashir when he visited the country in June 2015. ICC also criticizes the UN Security Council for no longer actively ensuring that al -Bashir was able to be arrested, despite six previous offenses. Therefore, the court is ignoring the move to the UN this time.

ANC conference exposes factional battles

July 5

The ANC party conference, which started on June 30, is permeated by the conflicts within the party, and between the two candidates mentioned as Zuma’s successor. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has the support of her former husband, is advocating a radical economic policy to reduce the gap between the country’s white minority and the vast majority of blacks who have not been part of the country’s prosperity. Her challenger Cyril Ramaphosa argues that greater economic growth is needed for more people to get a piece of the cake.

Dlamini-Zuma’s supporters demand, among other things, that MP Derek Hanekom, who has sharply criticized Zuma and corruption within the party, be forced to leave the ANC’s Economic Committee. This happens after he rejected their proposal to amend the constitution so that private land could be seized by the state without any compensation being paid.

However, the party must have agreed to accelerate land reform, and that land may in certain cases be expropriated without compensation to the previous owner. However, judges point out that no reforms will be initiated until after the 2019 elections. In his asphalt figure, Zuma calls for unity within the party.

At the same time, the economy continues to deteriorate since the country entered a recession in March.

Disbelief vote awaits Zuma in August

July 2

It is now clear that President Zuma will face a distrust vote on August 8. The President has not yet decided whether MPs can vote in secret, even though the Supreme Court has given his clear sign for it. At the same time, pressure on ANC members is mounting to support Zuma, as a leading party member of the party calls those who may be voting against the president for “suicide bombers”.


Zuma admits to the problem of corruption

June 30th

President Zuma recognizes that the ANC government is permeated by corruption and such serious wear and tear that its power is threatened. Zuma, who is the one most corruption charges are facing, urges the party to implement reforms so that it can be strengthened ahead of the 2019 elections.

New mining law lowers stock prices

June 15

South Africa adopts new rules for mining. All companies seeking new mining exploration licenses must have a majority of black shareholders. For companies with existing contracts, the requirement for black shareholders is increased from 26 to 30 percent. The message causes a number of mining companies’ shares to lose 5-6 percent in value.

Zille is being punished for tweet

June 13th

The Democratic Alliance takes away from the party’s former chairman Helen Zille all of her missions within the party. That’s the punishment for writing in a Twitter message (see March) that colonial times were not just anything negative. Zille is allowed to remain in his elected post as head of government in the Western Cape Province.

Opposition party police reports Zuma

June 9

The radical opposition party EFF police reports President Zuma and new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for shattering state money when the Transnet railway company bought new locomotives in 2012. EFF claims that Gigaba, as minister of public companies, then made sure the state paid too much for the locomotive.


Criticism against Zuma is growing within the ANC

May 29th

Criticism against President Zuma is also increasing within the ANC since he dismissed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in March. Q clay leading representatives of the party urges Zuma to resign. Plans to hold a vote of no-confidence against him at an ANC meeting are halted by the party’s executive committee.

Presidents want to “cure” South Africa

May 5th

The three Presidents FW de Klerk, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe initiate a national dialogue to “cure the country from its sick politics” characterized by top-level corruption and declining confidence in the country’s political leaders. The criticism is directed directly at President Zuma, who according to de Klerk does not do his work according to the rules of the constitution.


The Vice President wants a corruption investigation

April 23

Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa proposes an independent inquiry to examine allegations of corruption at the highest political level. He says the charges must be examined, otherwise the ANC will continue to lose voter support.

New alliance against Zuma

April 20

A series of opposition parties, religious groups, trade unions and community activists come together in an alliance called the Freedom Movement. The intention is to force President Zuma to step down. The initiators include former Archbishop Desmond Tutu. On the South African National Day, Freedom Day (the anniversary of the first democratic elections in 1994), a week later, the Freedom Movement organizes demonstrations against Zuma in several places in the country.


New protests against Zuma

March 31st

Zuma is undergoing a sudden reshuffle of its government, including respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and other leading ANC politicians. It is seen as an attempt by Zuma to be able to control who will take over the post of ANC leader when he resigns ahead of the 2019 elections. Zuma justifies the government’s transformation that it is needed for a radical transformation of the economy in a way that benefits the country’s poor population. Gordhan, during his time as finance minister, is considered to have worked for better control of the state finances and to counter corruption. In Pretoria and Cape Town, representatives of political parties, trade unions, NGOs and others demonstrate against Zuma’s policies. The protests are organized by the Save the South Africa movement. The opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) has already filed a motion for aa vote of no confidence should be held in Parliament.

Twitter message shakes opposition party

March 16

A heated debate erupts within the opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) since the party’s former chairman Helen Zille in a post on the microblogging Twitter writes that colonialism also had good sides, including by building an independent judiciary, transport infrastructure and water pipelines. From both his own party and others, Zille is criticized for living in a racist way of thinking.


Court: Violation of the Constitution to leave the ICC

February 22

The High Court in North Gauteng Province orders the government to cancel the process of terminating South Africa’s membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), as it would conflict with the country’s constitution. The reason is that such a decision must be taken by Parliament. A spokesman for the Justice Department says the government should consider the court’s justification before deciding on a possible appeal.

South Africa Religion