Report: South Africa is the Most Unequal Country in the World

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A new report from Oxfam South Africa shows how the average (white, male) CEO takes home as much as 461 black women from the bottom ten percent of earners.

South Africa is the Most Unequal Country in the World - New Report

The South African arm of global NGO Oxfam has released a report which reveals that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world.

Titled ‘Reclaiming Power: Womxn’s Work and Income Inequality in South Africa‘, the report shows how the average (white, male) CEO takes home as much as 461 black womxn from the bottom 10% of earners.


The term womxn is used, especially in intersectional feminism, as an alternative spelling to woman to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the sequences m-a-n and m-e-n, and to be inclusive of trans and nonbinary women


In a statement describing the report,
Reclaiming Power: Womxn’s Work and Income Inequality in South Africa, Oxfam SA said: “This report is the result of many years of working to understand poverty and inequality in the South Africa economy and seeks to expand the global conversation by looking at South Africa’s specific context of inequality and its structural drivers. Through our programming work, Oxfam South Africa has been confronted with poverty and inequality’s manifestations in South African society. This motivated us to develop a comprehensive exploration of how inequality in the South African economy continuously places black women at the bottom, in the labour market and overall economy.”

South Africa is the Most Unequal Country in the World - New Report

According to the report the average South African CEO “takes home as much as 461 black women from the bottom 10% of earners.

On average households headed by black women had an income of R58,000, those headed by black men had R75,000. White woman-headed households had R258,000, while white male-headed households averaged R396,000.

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It adds that existing government policies have failed to reduce inequality because macroeconomic policies have entrenched rather than reduced the dominance of a handful of conglomerates based in extractives and energy.

This skewed industrial structure, established during apartheid, has led to a decline of manufacturing, jobless growth, asset price inflation and investment volatility in the era of financialisation, while crowding out the informal sector’s ability to absorb unemployment.

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According to Oxfam, addressing the crisis of inequality in South Africa therefore needs to go much further than the labour market reforms, skills development policies and microsupport for the informal sector that have been advocated by mainstream economists.

Long-term, socially sustainable distributions of income would require radical transformation of the economy towards more labour intensive, linked sectors that serve the needs of the population – for example via a developmental welfare state across health, education and other social needs – rather than the imperatives of profit and capital expatriation.

Specific policies to reduce labour market inequality – such as a living wage, a maximum income cap no higher than 10% of the income of the lowest paid worker in firm, and making workplaces safe for women – must be rooted in macroeconomic policy that reorients away from the ‘Minerals Energy Complex’ and expansion of the financial sector in and of itself, towards industrial policy aimed at promoting sustainable and equitable economic development.

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Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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