A recent study by the Institute of race and relation (IRR report) has it that the white South African race have a better quality of life that other races in the country.
In its analysis of various social indicators to determine the quality of life each race group living in SA experiences, IRR discovered that SA white race stands a better chance than other races.
The institution tabled the living standards per region using the same indicators to all nine provinces. The indicators included the matric pass rate, access to basic services, unemployment rate, average household spend and access to medical aid.
The index, according to the author of the IRR report, shows that Black South Africans have a “far poorer” quality of life than other races while the Indian and White households also have more money to spend with 42.3% of Indian households 3.3% of White households being able to spend up to R10 000 or more per month.
This shows a wide gap from that of the black and coloured households where 8.1% and 18.9% being able to spend the same amount respectively.
In terms of access to better education and employment, the IRR report also noted a 30% difference in the pass rates of White and Black pupils across the country while the White population is at least four times less likely to be unemployed than Blacks.
While the differences in the receiving of basic services like piped water, electricity and basic sanitation, the report found 62% more White households have access to medical aid coverage than Blacks.
Looking at the striking racial differences in receiving basic services like quality water, electricity and basic sanitation, the report found that 62% White households have access to medical aid coverage than Blacks.
The IRR report draws the attentions of experts who believed in the need for an urgent move to bridge the gap between various races in the country.
Experts believe a Democratic Developmental State model may be one of the ways to curb the inequality displayed by the IRR’s report, but effectively implementing this model in an “increasingly dysfunctional state” may hinder any sort of change.
According to Devan Pillay, associate professor of sociology at Wits University, how to reform South Africa’s inequality is the million-dollar question.
“We must not forget that within each race, there are levels of the division as well. The IRR relies on market forces to determine their development outcomes and this encourages their results of inequality. Those who have had privileges in the past will continue to thrive now,
“This is the conundrum South Africa faces. The State is becoming increasingly dysfunctional and is, therefore, unable to play the role of a Developmental State in having a greater impact in moderating and intervening on issues of inequality,” Pillay said.
Pillay also suggested that South Africa need transparency in the State and in the markets to end the inequality and not a “wholesale nationalisation” of the country’s wealth as is being suggested by some experts and politicians.
“We need a Democratic Developmental State model to really drive equality but issues of corruption, looting of the State, nepotism and cronyism all hinder this and have a negative impact on the quality of life. We need redistributive measures like free education, a national health insurance policy and basic income grants,” Pillay said.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation’s Ayesha Fakie said the IRR reports are interesting but not surprising. He also admitted that South Africa has one of the worst ratios of wealth and income inequality globally.
This, according to Fakie, is because of country’s structural legacies that continue to impact on people daily lives.
“These inequalities as highlighted by the Index play out along racial lines. What would be interesting is to understand – on a quantitative level – is how inequality impacts along gender identities as well,” Fakie said.
“Women & LGBTQI+ persons are often more marginalised and more economically vulnerable. Many studies have shown that the face of poverty is female as it is women who bear the brunt of economic exclusion. Gender inequality is strongly associated with income inequality, and SA’s position on the UN Gender Inequality Index is nothing to be happy about.” he added.
Fakie called for redistributive approaches to economic exclusion to be taken to build truly inclusive economies. He said the inequality was not a natural phenomenon but a that it came through deliberate efforts to ensure that wealth accrued only to a white minority via various Apartheid laws.
Generational effects ensure wealth remains highly skewed, as the survey indicates. Inequality must be addressed through greater access to material capabilities that ensures improved quality of life; education, healthcare, employment, Fakie said as he calls for a renewed focus on socioeconomic justice to ensure that economic equality is spread more evenly.
Without it, the gains achieved since 1994 makes reconciliation and improved social cohesion more challenging, Fakie concluded saying.