New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 265

T H E    N E W    S O U T H     A F R I C A

THE FACTS
Black South Africans are joining the middle class – and some are getting very rich indeed.
But the legacy of apartheid means that the gulf between most blacks and most whites remains vast.

South Africa

THE RICH AND THE POOR

Population1
Total estimate 38.9 million
Population

 

Monthly Household Income1

Percentage of each racial group earning 700 rand per month
Percentage of each racial group earning over 2,500 rand per month
Monthly household income.

 

Human Development
If separately accounted for, white and black South Africans end up with radically different positions on the UN Human Development Index, which merges income per capita, life expectancy and literacy to give a sense of a country’s quality of life.3

RANK    Country    IndexRating
1   
Canada   
0.932
 23   
Spain   
0.888
White
South Africans   
0.878
 24   
Hong Kong   
0.875
 54   
Thailand   
0.798
 93   
South Africa   
0.650
 94   
China   
0.644
122   
Cape Verde   
0.474
Black
South Africans   
0.462
123   
Congo   
0.461
173   
Guinea   
0.191

 

LANDLOCKED

Landlocked
NANCY DURRELL-McKENNA / PANOS
  • The Land Act of 1913 and subsequent racist legislation prevented the vast majority of South Africans from owning or even leasing land anywhere in the country, in urban or rural areas – giving rise to the most unequal system of land distribution in the world.

  • Rural populations have been concentrated in ‘homelands’ and other designated areas, leading to severe overpopulation and soil erosion. Msinga in KwaZulu, for example, contains seven times as many people and animals as can be sustained agriculturally, according to a government commission.

  • The amount of arable land per capita in white rural areas is 12 times greater than in black areas.

  • Only 14 per cent of rural dwellers have access to adequate sanitation.5

 

THE YOUNG LION OF AFRICA

The Government of National Unity that took office in April 1994 does not exactly reflect the election results – the ANC majority has allocated some Cabinet posts to National Party and Inkatha representatives on the basis of backroom deals rather than on strict proportionality.7

The young lion of Africa.

 

THE CLASS OF 1990

Spending on education for the black majority was minimal in the apartheid years: as a result 86 per cent of black schools are still not connected to the electricity grid. In the former ‘homelands’ the number of pupils per teacher can be as high as 70. So blacks have little chance of matching white exam results.5

Percentage passing standard 10 examinations, 1990.

 

UNEQUAL HEALTH

Health-care facilities, particularly in rural South Africa, are often non-existent.

Health indicators per 1,000 population, 19895

URBAN

 
Hospital beds
Doctors
Western Cape
5.7
1.3
Gauteng
4.0
0.9

RURAL

 
Hospital beds
Doctors
Bophuthatswana
2.2
0.0
Kwa Ndebele
0.1
0.0

 

SOUTH MEETS SOUTH

Many white South Africans do not like to think of their country as ‘Third World’ (or even ‘African’). But South Africa has roughly the same income per head as Brazil, and statistics show its living conditions to be much worse – because poverty is deeper and more widespread in the African country.3,5
1992
Brazil
SouthAfrica
GNP per capita
$2,680
$2,530
Life expectancy
66
62
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births)
65
70
Maternal mortality (per 100,000 births)
150
550
Adult illiteracy %
19
35

 

THE BIG ISSUE

Housing conditions in South Africa are among the worst in the world. Just 58 per cent of homes are connected to a water supply and more than a quarter are not classified as ‘permanent’ structures. The disparity between white and black homes is enormous.

AVERAGE FLOOR AREA PER PERSON

Whites
33 square metres each   
Blacks
4 square metres each
Floor space

1 Africa Review 1995.
2 The Legacy of Apartheid (Guardian Books, London 1994).
3 Human Development Report 1994, UNDP (OUP New York & Oxford).
4 World Development Report 1993, World Bank (OUP New York & Oxford).
5 Making Democracy Work, Macro-Economic Research Group (Cape Town 1993).
6 Uprooting Poverty, Francis Wilson and Mamphela Ramphele (WW Norton, New York and London 1989).
7 Election ’94 South Africa, ed. Andrew Reynolds (David Philip, Cape Town and Johannesburg 1994).

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©Copyright: New Internationalist 1995


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