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the new great trek the story of south africa's white exodus

by : johann van rooyen

In The New Great Trek Johann van Rooyen holistically explores aspects of South Africa's growing white exodus with reference to its origins, the reasons why people are leaving, who is leaving, the numbers, the destinations and the socio-political sentiment towards emigration.

The author argues that emigration cannot be seen in isolation to the broader debilitating forces that are shaping the post-apartheid society, in particular among the highest crime rates in the world. He argues that the growing brain drain and its root cause, violent crime, together with the daunting problems of massive unemployment, the AIDS pandemic, corruption and declining standards of healthcare and education, pose a direct challenge to the medium- and long term viability and survival of the South African state. Van Rooyen uses stark figures to illustrate his argument, such as:

- An estimated 30 000 emigrants left the country in 1999 to join the estimated 1,1 million to 1,6 million South African diaspora abroad. In case of a political calamity such as racial civil war, and if a mass exodus of whites occurred in Zimbabwe, Namibia and elsewhere in Africa is repeated in South Africa, two and three million whites could eventually emigrate.

- Up to 74% of professional people in South Africa have been thinking of emigrating and more than 20% of South Africa's educated professionals may have already left. The brain-drain costs South Africa about R2,5 billion a year and each skilled emigrant who leaves the country results in the loss of 10 unskilled jobs. Emigration already has cost South Africa R285 billion in the form of the loss of potential contributions to the country's GNP. Almost R68 billion of investment in `human capital' was lost to the South African economy due to emigration in 1997 alone.

- The 800 000 British passport holders in South Africa who, in the case of a mass-outflow, would cause Britain serious problems to absorb and provide jobs and houses to this many new residents from South Africa, many of whom had never been to the UK.

- Afrikaners now constitute about 40% of emigrants, and blacks about 10%.

- Violent crime is the reason why 60% of emigrants are leaving South Africa. This is hardly surprising, considering that violent crime has turned South Africa into an anarchical society with a murder rate equal to the mortality rate of countries involved in war or engaging in civil war. During the 1990s approximately 250 000 South Africans were criminally murdered, an average of 25 000 per year. About 137 women are raped each day and about 50 000 rapes are reported to police each year but the figure could be as high as one million per year.

(Item 6456) soft cover, 2000 198pp ISBN 1 86888 144 X

SA price R90,00 Other countries in Africa R99,00 Overseas US$15.80 or GB£10.30