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KevinKing
 
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South Africa - Worst in the World?

06 February 2014, 22:00

A nasty stats sheet is being passed around about our country.  It reads:

“Let’s talk:  Some national statistics that will shock you

1) Highest crime rate in the world

2) Highest electricity price in the world

3) 3rd highest food prices in the world

4) Highest unemployment in Africa

5) Most expensive cellular rates in the world

6) Highest number of rapes in the world

7) 4th highest murder rate in the world

8) Country with the most public protests in the world (2013)

9) Highest number of Aids in the world

10) President (leader) with the lowest education (grade 5)

11) 5th lowest GDP in the world out of 176 countries

12) Highest GINI in the world (inequality)

13) Highest depreciating currency in the world

14) Large infrastructure project in the world

15) Highest number of hijackings in the world

16) Highest number of infant murders in the world

17) Highest elderly (over 65) rapes in the world

18) Voted worst education system in the world 2013

19) Most expensive presidential accommodation in the world

20) Highest teenage pregnancies in the world”

Now this paints a pretty grim picture of our country if all of the above were in fact true.  So I’ve gone through the list so see whether the point is a) fact or fiction b) explained my findings c) concluded on the severity of the issue – Defcon 1 (most severe); Defcon 3 (moderate severity); Defcon 5 (least severe).

1.       Highest crime rate in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      We do know for certain that we are labelled the “rape capital of the world” (See point 6).  We are also in the top 10 when it comes to homicide (see point 7).  In terms of hijacking we are in the top 20 (see point 15).  This all adds up to the fact that we have one of the highest crime rates in the world, there is no doubt about that.  As for being number 1, trying to prove it is going to be very difficult.

c.       Defcon 1

2.       Highest electricity price in the world

a.       Fiction

b.      From various sources it appears that we do indeed have very high electricity prices but definitely not the highest.  From having relatively low prices, the failings at Eskom have caused the prices to skyrocket but we are still behind some countries such as Australia, Germany and Italy in terms of high prices.

c.       Defcon 3

3.       3rd highest food prices in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      This is extremely difficult to work out as different kinds of food rank differently in price from country to country.  But we do know that high inflation has been pushing up our food prices quite dramatically and with the huge loss of farmers in the last two decades our food security is under threat.

c.       Defcon 2

4.       Highest unemployment in Africa

a.       Fiction

b.      South Africa’s 25.2% unemployment rate may not be the highest in Africa (Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is between 70% - 80%) but according to the World Economic Forum’s “Global Risk 2014 Report” South Africa has the 3rd highest youth (15 – 24) unemployment rate (50%) in the world.  Since the only other two countries that are worse off are European (Greece & Spain), that means we are the worst performer in Africa in terms of youth unemployment.  We ranked 101 of 105 countries which had available data.

c.       Defcon 1

5.       Most expensive cellular rates in the world

a.       Fiction

b.      In terms of data, we are the most expensive in Africa.  The World Economic forum ranked us the most expensive of the BRICS countries in terms of call rates and when comparing us to the rest of Africa we ranking poorly but not the worst.  This is because we have the highest call termination cost in Africa.

c.       Defcon 2

6.       Highest number of rapes in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      South Africa has been dubbed the “rape capital of the world” by Interpol and this is widely accepted.  However it is very difficult to say this definitively.  Rape organisations estimate that between 5% - 10% or rape cases are reported and less than 10% of cases reported lead to convictions.  Conservative estimates say that over 650,000 sexual offenses occur each year but other estimates put this figure at just over 1,300,000 per year.  The terms “infant rape” and “corrective rape” are sadly synonymous with South Africa.  So it is highly probable that we are in fact the rape capital of the world.

c.       Defcon 1

7.       4th highest murder rate in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      This is a difficult one as I explained in my last piece titled: “650,000 homicides” http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/650-000-homicides-20140114.  The problem is that we know our murder rate is one of the highest in the world.  Various sources rank us about 10th.  In terms of total murders, various sources rank us about 4th.  But as I mention in “650,000 homicides”, we are comparing our murders which exclude culpable homicide to other countries’ homicides which include murder and many instances of culpable homicide.  Here is an example:

A man breaks into a farm, robs the place and executes the farmer, wife and two children.  In South Africa, the perp would in many cases be convicted of culpable homicide.  In other countries like America, Mexico and in fact most other countries, the perp would be convicted of murder.  Secondly, there are many cases of South Africans being murdered and police record the cause of death as “natural causes” or “suicides”.  Do you see the disparity here:  SA 0 – Other country 1…   

Thus I’m not going to say with 100% certainty that we have the 4th highest murder rate in the world but I’m going to say that it is reasonable to assume that we are within the top 5 with a possibility that we are number 1.

c.       Defcon 1

8.       Country with the most public protests in the world (2013)

a.       Fact

b.      Various sources including Wikipedia reveal South Africa to be the country with the highest number of public strikes in the world.  The Municipal IQ Hotspot Monitor recorded just over 155 major demonstrations in 2013.

c.       Defcon 1

9.       Highest number of Aids in the world

a.       Fact

b.      Africa is by far the greatest affected continent when it comes to Aids and various sources rank South Africa as the country with the highest number of Aids infected in the world (about 5,600,000 in 2011), with 2nd place going to Nigeria (about 3,300,000 in 2011). 

c.       Defcon 1

10.   President (leader) with the lowest education (grade 5)

a.       Uncertain

b.      There is no list for the least educated heads of state but looking at the credentials of many other African leaders I couldn’t find anyone with a lower education that Zuma.  So it’s highly probable that we have the president with the lowest education in the world.

c.       Defcon 1

11.   5th lowest GDP in the world out of 176 countries

a.       Fiction

b.      I’m not sure where this stat came from but it is definitely incorrect.  According to the World Economic forum we ranked about 34th in GDP (US$) last year.  We did manage to top the African table but Nigeria is catching up.

c.       Defcon 4

12.   Highest GINI in the world (inequality)

a.       Uncertain

b.      According to the last calculation by the World Bank, South Africa was ranked 4th last in the world but that was a couple of years ago.  Various sources such as Wikipedia say we have the highest GINI coefficient (0.7) at the moment.  However due to the high nature of this measure it’s difficult to determine who the worst is at any given moment as the gaps are close.

c.       Defcon 1

13.   Highest depreciating currency in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      The South African Rand is the 2nd highest depreciating currency in the World (lost 19.22% against the US Dollar in 2013) after the Argentine Peso (lost 24.65% against the US Dollar in 2013).  That means we are the biggest loser in Africa, beating Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho to the wooden spoon.  Kenya was a notable performer which gained over 3% against the US Dollar in 2013.

c.       Defcon 1

14.   Large infrastructure project in the world

a.       ?

b.      I must be honest, I have no clue what this means!

c.       ?

15.   Highest number of hijackings in the world

a.       Fiction

b.      Technically this is not true because there are other countries that are much larger than South Africa but our 58,370 hijackings recorded last year still compete against other countries.  When it comes to rates, various sources put us in the top 20, but definitely not 1st.

c.       Defcon 2

16.   Highest number of infant murders in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      I’m not sure where this comes from as statistics around this are difficult to come by.  Maybe they confused it with infant mortality rate where we perform very poorly, 45.9 deaths / 1000.

c.       ?

17.   Highest elderly (over 65) rapes in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      Again, these statistics are difficult to come by but considering that we probably have the highest rape rate in the world it wouldn’t be far off to say that the above is true.  If you read the news you will read about elderly people getting raped on a daily basis.

c.       Defcon 1

18.   Voted worst education system in the world 2013

a.       Uncertain

b.      This is a difficult one because it’s pretty difficult to define the “worst education system” and I doubt people vote over this stuff.  But what we do know is that South Africa was ranked 2nd worst in the world in terms of the quality of maths and science education.  Some sources indicate that the ten worst education systems are made up largely of African countries but exclude South Africa while the World Economic Forum ranked as the 3rd worst education system in the world.  We can thus say for certainty that we are way down there but probably not the worst.

c.       Defcon 1

19.   Most expensive presidential accommodation in the world

a.       Uncertain

b.      By comparing the cost of other dictators’ presidential homes (e.g. Mugabe) it’s clear that Zuma does have one of the most expensive presidential homes in the world.  Some presidents live in palaces which are decade, even centuries old, thus compiling an accurate list will be long and tedious.  But it’s obvious that in a country/continent with so much poverty, a R200,000,000 plus house is ridiculous.

c.       Defcon 1

20.   Highest teenage pregnancies in the world

a.       Fiction

b.      Sub-Saharan Africa has amongst the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world because most teenagers marry before they turn 18.  Nigeria for instance was reported to have 121/1000 teen pregnancies.  It is different here, as many teen pregnancies result from rape and are out of wedlock.  The latest stats from the Department of Health in 2009 showed the following teenage pregnancy rates:  Black – 71/1000, Coloured – 60/1000, Indian 22/1000, White – 14/1000.  This is comparable with rural areas in India where teenage marriage is encouraged and pre-marital sex is uncommon.  In the developed world, the US tops the list with 52.1/1000

c.       Defcon 1

So to sum up, many of the statements made are false, many are not conclusive but quite possible while a few are fact.  Based on what I found, it’s safe to say that someone was trying to exaggerate our problems.  The naysayers and right wingers will thus be unhappy with these findings but others, including the liberals who vehemently opposed this fact sheet will be pleased/I-told-you-so/happy to know that we have:

1) One of the highest crime rates in the world, possibly the highest

2) High electricity prices (increasing fast) but far from the highest in the world

3) High food prices (increasing fast) but not the highest in the world

4) One of the highest unemployment rates in the world, highest youth unemployment in Africa

5) One of the most expensive cellular rates in the world

6) Most probably the highest number of rapes in the world

7) One of the highest murder rates in the world, in the top 10

8) Country with the most public protests in the world (2013)

9) Highest number of Aids in the world

10) Most probably the president (leader) with the lowest education (grade 5)

11) A GDP that is far from the worst in the world

12) Possible the highest GINI coefficients in the world (inequality).  

13) The 2nd highest depreciating currency in the world

14) …

15) One of the highest numbers of hijackings in the world, top 20

16) A high number of infant murders but probably not the highest in the world

17) One of the highest elderly (over 65) rapes in the world, possibly the highest

18) One of the worst education systems in the world 2013, but probably not the worst

19) One of the most expensive presidential accommodations in the world but probably not no. 1

20) One of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world, but not the highest

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