Democracy fails to wipe out history's inequalities
A major government report shows that blacks remain underdogs in SA society, writes DON ROBERTSON
Blacks still suffer from an inordinate paucity of employment, education and income opportunities. Of the 4,2-million people unemployed (30% of the economically active population), most are blacks.
This gloomy picture of the economy is painted by the annual Household Survey conducted by the Central Statistical Service. The survey shows that a large portion of blacks still live in poverty and have no access to electricity, water, sanitation and other household services.
The position is more severe in rural areas. In presenting the survey, Dr Essop Pahad, Deputy Minister in the Office of the Deputy President, said "this is clearly a situation which government needs to both monitor and address".
The survey estimates the total population at 41,5-million people, living in 8,8-million homes in an equal split between rural and urban areas. Of these, 75% are black, 13% white, 9% coloured and 3% Indian.
The survey was conducted in October last year in 3 000 areas, with 10 homes visited in each area. The unemployment figure of 4,2-million represents 29,3% of the economically active population of 14,4-million.
This figure, based on the unemployment definition of those who are able to work, whether or not they have tried to find a job, shows that almost half of black women and 29% of black men are without jobs.
Among coloureds, 18% of males and 28% of females are unemployed, while 10% of Indian men and 20% of Indian women have no work.
In contrast, unemployment among whites is 4% for men and 8% for women.
In spite of efforts to bolster economic activity in the Eastern Cape, it remains the province with the highest unemployment levels. Mpumalanga is in the middle of the nine provinces and the Western Cape boasts the highest employment figures. In all instances, except the Western Cape, unemployment is highest in rural areas.
The survey reveals that 34% of black males and half of the females are employed in elementary occupations while a fifth of those employed work as operators, assemblers or similar occupations. In contrast, whites, especially males, are in occupations which require higher levels of education. Many of them will be managers or in senior positions in the blue-collar job category.
Fewer than 4% of black males and 2% of females are in managerial positions.
Significantly, the informal sector is a growing source of employment for blacks, with about 1,7-million people involved, of which about 1,3-million people, mainly women, work for themselves.
The survey also shows that a third of all employees are members of a trade union.
In the past, education was not equally available to the total population and this is best shown by the fact that only 2% of blacks over the age of 65 years have passed matric.
Almost 29% of blacks aged 50 to 54 years and 40% of those between 60 and 64 years received no education. In all age groups, a fifth of black women and 14% of men were never educated.
Although the position has improved in recent years, only 6% of male and female blacks have received post-school qualifications, compared with 73% of white males and 67% of females who have attained standard 10 or a higher level of education.
The survey also shows up further inequalities in income generation. Black households are the poorest, with 26% earning less than R6 839 a year compared with 2% among whites and Indians and 12% among coloureds.
In contrast, two thirds of white households earn more than R53 092 a year against 45% for Indians, 16% for coloureds and only 9% for blacks.
Among black households, 51% have electricity, compared with 99% for whites and Indians. Only 33% of black households have running water inside the home against 97% for whites and Indians, while proper sanitation is found in 98% of white homes, but only in 22% of black dwellings.
What the survey does point out, though, is that South Africa has a relatively young and expanding black population compared with the coloured and Indian population and an ageing, shrinking white population.