Oxfam and Civil Society Inequality Symposium
On the 29th
& 30th October Oxfam South Africa convened a national symposium on
Inequality in Midrand,
Johannesburg. MISTRA Executive Director,
Joel Netshitenzhe, gave the keynote address.
Role Of A Capable Developmental State In
Addressing the Injustice Of Inequality
By Joel Netshitenzhe
Presented at the Oxfam
and Civil Society Inequality Symposium
What are the major trends with regard to income
inequality in South Africa?
First, income poverty has been declining since the
advent of democracy.
Second, functional distribution of national income and,
with it, income inequality has not improved. Interestingly, during the period
of high growth (2003 – 2008), indications were that the rich were better able
to take advantage of the benefits, including the wealth effect.
Third, the change in the share of national income has
not favoured the ‘middle class’, despite the fact that their proportion of the
population has increased, with the per capita expenditure growth incidence
curve evincing a U shape.
Fourth, being employed does not, on its own, guarantee
an escape from poverty and this has worsened anomie within the labour market
and across society.
Fifth, the inequality measures show a declining trend
between races, while there is a rising trend within races.
Sixth, inequality in South Africa’s labour market is
aggravated by the skills shortages which do add a premium to salaries; while on
the other hand; the oversupply of unskilled labour pushes wages down at the
[A lesson one has learnt when going through some of
the background information, is the need to differentiate between income and
expenditure data, for the latter can evince prevalence of debt and remittances,
and thus distort the actual picture.]
IN PUBLIC POLICY CONSCIOUSNESS
understanding inequality trends, this Symposium is meant to contribute to the
identification of the various interventions that a developmental state can and
should make to reduce the scourge. In other words, reducing inequality as such
needs to be an express part of governmental policy.
The question then arises: what is the extent to which
insights on inequality have impacted on South African policy-making and
To download full paper click here: Netshitenzhe Inequality Oxfam.pdf