At face value, it may seem as if the concept of the rainbow nation is a noble one. That is the superficial view. If you delve deeper into the dynamics of the South African society, you will realize how life is hard for the majority of blacks. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world and that high level of poverty shows the extent of damage which the apartheid system left behind.
According to a new report by the World Bank listing 149 countries, South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Although the report acknowledged that South Africa has made some considerable progress in poverty reduction since the end of apartheid, inequality is still persistent and high. The report found the top 1% of South Africans own 70.9% of the country’s wealth while the bottom 60% only controls 7% of the country’s assets.
The period between 2011 and 2015 saw the trajectory for this progress being slowed down. Poverty is still high consistent among black South Africans, the less educated, the unemployed, female-headed households, large families, and children. Poverty still has a strong spatial dimension showing the long lasting effects of apartheid. Areas that were set aside for blacks during the apartheid era still have the highest concentration of poverty, and showing no signs of reducing.
More than half of South Africans (55.5%) or 30-million people live below the national poverty line of R992 per month. This number increased since 2011.
Former head of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in the report that inequality remains “stubbornly high”.
“South Africa as one of the most unequal countries in the world‚ with consumption inequality having increased since 1994. Wealth inequality is high and has been rising over time. A polarised labour market results in high wage inequality.”
Apartheid did much damage to the welfare of blacks. World Bank South African director Paul Noumba Um said: “South Africa has a dual economy where on the one hand is a small high-skilled‚ high-productivity economy and on the other hand‚ a large low-skilled‚ low-productivity one.”
One can only wait when real economic emancipation is a lived reality for the majority of the poor black South Africans. As it stands, the evil legacy of apartheid is still wreaking havoc in people’s lives (black South Africans of course.