Inequality is South Africa’s new Apartheid


Two decades into the country’s democracy, South Africans have found themselves having climbed one mountain only to realise that there are more mountains waiting to be tackled, to liberally borrow from the late great Nelson Mandela.
In their naivety, most South Africans thought soon after the country’s all-inclusive multiparty elections their newly found political freedom would change their economic lot. They expected to have better jobs and better access to income generating activities.
Sadly, now the majority are disillusioned. Unemployment statistics have been on the upswing since 2004 (then 10 years since ‘freedom’); the rate of small businesses that are collapsing is startling (Small Business Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, claimed that as many as 80% of small business collapse in their infancy in her recent speech). The majority are still stuck at the stratum they were during Apartheid. They can barely afford a meal.
Against a backdrop of this scenario, a new breed of multimillionaires from racially diverse backgrounds has emerged. Unwittingly a system that perpetuates disparity in income has been created. And, as a consequence, South Africa is ranked as one of the world’s unequal countries, with an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Evidently, interventions are needed from government, big business and civil society to urgently redress the situation. This is not a familiar narrative that has been told repeatedly; it is a crisis that cannot just be wished away. Inequality is not what South Africans had in mind when they were casting their vote in 1994.
No end to misery for Rustenburg Miners
Almost five months after the end of the protracted strike, Impats Mine employees are yet to experience the fruits of their action. In fact some of them feel they were far much better off before the strike, A Transform SA field reporter gathered on his recent trip to Rustenburg.
“I rue participating in the strike,” says Acuna* 29, who comes from Eastern Cape. “It has only worsened my situation”
For the past five months, for most of the five months Acuna* has been servicing loans he had defaulted to loansharks, leaving him with virtually.
“I can’t even buy myself groceries for a week. And my family looks forward from your. It’s distressing.”
The most enterprising amongst the miners operators run small tuck shops sells anything from loose cigarettes to cold drinks.
If might have to get worse to get better – hopefully it will. Workers are not sure whether they will be employed in the next six months as Anglo American announced that it is might be selling some of its assets

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