Two of the country’s wealthiest men have a net asset value that is equal to the property value of the poorest 50% of the South African population.
This was revealed by research conducted by global development organisation Oxfam, which is opposed to socioeconomic inequalities.
“In 2016 two South African men [Johann Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer] were found to own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50% of the population.
“Although this speaks to asset and not income inequality, it does imply that economic inequality has gotten and is getting worse.”
The report also showed that between 1993 and 2011 the income of the:
- Richest 10% grew by 64%;
- Poorest 50% grew by 3%; and
- Poorest 10% had not grown at all.
It explained that the richest 10% of the SA population in 2016 had an income of R1.1-trillion ($69-billion) compared to R603-billion ( $36-billion) in 2011.
“This means that these men saw their income grow by a full 64% in this period,” said the report.
It also showed that the poor have been worse off as their income has remained stagnant.
“There are gaps in the data presented here. These figures are conservative. It is known that the wealth and income of the very rich are under-counted in surveys.
“However, the most important gap here concerns gender. It is known that economic inequality affects women more than any other group,” the report said.
Oxfam proposed that world leaders at Davos should prioritise an end to tax havens.
It recommended that policies that would result in the poor getting a living wage, promote women’s economic equality and use progressive public spending to tackle inequality should be implemented.
Oxfam’s project manager Ayabonga Cawe said the figures showed why the richer have been getting rich and the poor getting poorer.
He said the country should focus on implementing the national minimum wage policy, restructure the financial services sector and create more transparency in political party funding.