Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and the South African Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town have released a report looking at the inequality in South Africa titled Inequality Trends Report.
Eusebius McKaiser facilitates debate on the report with Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute director Isobel Frye, Business Times contributing editor Hilary Joffe and The Raith Foundation strategy director and feminist activist Fatima Shabodien.
Two years ago, Stats SA released a Poverty Trends Report which looked at long-term trends in poverty with the hope to try and plot a path forward. This is the first time since the 90s that Stats SA has brought out an inequality report.— Isobel Frye, Director - Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute
Frye says she was disappointed in the report because of the inequality aspect of its investigations seemed to be a more comparative analysis of poverty levels rather than inequality.
Inequality is a comparison of lack and have. You have countries that are poor and everybody is poor and inequality is low. South Africa is a high-income country where the distribution is completely skewed.— Isobel Frye, Director - Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute
Joffe adds that one of the reasons the report matters even if the contents aren't new, is that the report gives official figures.
If it comes from Stats SA, these are the official numbers. The report shows inequality across a number of dimensions, which is important as it points us to where the problems and solutions are.— Hilary Joffe, Contributing editor - Business Times
She says when it comes to asset inequality, the report suggests that South Africa is doing better.
The root of South Africa's inequality problem is the high unemployment levels.— Hilary Joffe, Contributing editor - Business Times
Shabodien says one of the gaps in the report is that it perpetuates an obsession with understanding poverty and how poor people are managing to stay alive.
The problem is that there is no analysis of wealth and how wealth is transferred and what we need to do to disrupt that transferal patterns.— Fatima Shabodien, Strategy director and feminist activist - The Raith Foundation
Listen below to the full conversation: