Sep 14, 2012
Activist, ethical State needed to address SA’s inequality problem – NetshitenzheBack
Johannesburg|Education|South Africa|Joel Netshitenzhe
© Reuse this
Addressing attendees at the memorial colloquium of the assassination of writer and activist Ruth First, in Johannesburg, last month, Mapungubwe Institute executive director Joel Netshitenzhe stressed that, while high rates of economic growth, coupled with lower unemployment levels, may reduce absolute poverty, it would not impact on the lasting challenge of inequality.
“South Africa represents extreme manifestations of inequality, which are far more prevalent and systematic than in other States. This reality, coupled with the historical racial and class features of our society, makes it a highly complex issue,” he said.
Netshitenzhe said that interracial inequality had decreased during the first decade of South Africa’s democracy, as black South Africans were able to break through the glass ceiling of apartheid.
However, intragroup inequality within the black community increased in parallel, as only a fraction of its members were able to exploit the new opportunities.
Moreover, once the base effects of democracy had manifested during the first decade, interracial inequality widened from 2004 to 2009 during a period of high economic growth.
“This was a direct result of the rich being better positioned to take advantage of a burgeoning economic sector than the poor,” he noted.
While Netshitenzhe accepted that higher rates of economic growth and increased labour absorption mechanisms, as encouraged in the developmental State model, would reduce absolute poverty, he believed that an activist State, as an instrument of redistribution, was required to reduce relative poverty, or inequality levels.
He said that this approach would include the absorption of marginalised groups into economic activity, the provision of free and good- quality education as well as dedicated skills development efforts.
In addition, South Africa would be required to institute free or subsidised high-quality public services for the poor, place restrictions on executive remuneration packages to boost the distribution of wealth and implement a minimum wage policy and inflation limit.
“Progressive taxation would also go some way towards addressing inequality, but for this system to retain legitimacy, the efficiency and ethical conduct of the State, particularly in the administration of the higher income brackets, are paramount,” he pointed out.
He added that measures to address spatial settlement patterns in relation to areas of high economic activity were also required.
Netshitenzhe said that dealing with inequality entailed a reversal of South Africa’s ‘trickle up’ economy, in which the perpetuation of vastly divided socioeconomic classes was observed, and cited a recent statistic in support of this statement.
“Twenty per cent of the poorest citizens of this country earn only 2.3% of the national income, while 20% of the richest earn 70% of the national income,” he concluded.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Labour and Skills Development News
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
Projects in Progress - Second Edition (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s second Projects in Progress supplement considers some of the major project developments under way, including high-profile energy and transport projects, as well as a few of the lower-profile public and private developments. What remains apparent is...
Water 2013: A review of South Africa’s water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2013 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Canadian Mining Roundup for June 2013 (PDF Report)
The June 2013 roundup includes details of the development of TSX-V-listed Aldridge Minerals’ flagship Yenipazar polymetallic project, in Turkey; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s renewal of Cameco’s uranium mining licence pertaining to the Cigar Lake...
This Week's Magazine
Johannesburg-based locomotive solutions provider DCD Rolling Stock officially launched Phase 1 of its R240-million recapitalisation programme at its Boksburg manufacturing facility, last month.
Sales of electric cars should pick up once more such vehicles become available on the South African market, says Nissan South Africa (SA) chief marketing manager Ross Garvie. The local arm of the Japanese car company launched the country’s first fully electric...
Denel Land Systems’ (DLS) Mechem division is successfully marketing the latest version of its highly regarded Casspir mine-protected vehicle, the Casspir NG2000 series wide body ambulance. As its description says, this has a notably wider body than standard...
The infrastructure boom in Africa has seen investment in 322 megaprojects reach $222.7-billion, says professional services firm Deloitte in its ‘African Construction Trends’ report. Deloitte Southern Africa infrastructure and capital projects leader André Pottas...
ASME, the international engineering profession’s cooperative, educational and training, research, outreach and codes and standards development organisation (originally the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, founded in 1880), is seeking to improve the...