Education Eye on poverty Hope Staff Writer  

De-normalising landlessness and poverty in SA

When 1994 arrived South Africans had dreams and visions of freedom, of a better life and a reverse of centuries of colonialism and then Apartheid. They used to have hope. President Mandela gave the people hope. They did not expect to be landless and living in backyards the way so many are in 2020.

Photo by Ashim D’Silva

Undoubtedly, South Africans have more rights now than they did under the brutal and inhumane Apartheid regime. However, the majority of South Africans have yet to achieve economic freedom. The rich have gotten richer and a few politicians, their families and their networks have become excessively wealthy.

The masses of South Africans are still shackled to the neo-Apartheid economy that extends pre-democracy inequalities.

Consider South Africa’s unemployment rates (see the figure below). Right now the official rate is over 30%. The number of unemployed people is actually much higher. When it comes to the youth, the situation is worse. In 2019, the youth unemployment rate was roughly 55.2% (see here). If we think about this, we are sitting on a time bomb which might have started to explode.

SA unemployment rates.

More than 20 years after the legal demise of Apartheid, South Africa is still one of the most unequal societies in the world. The racial inequalities that characterised the Apartheid economy remain with us. To date, strategies that aim to create a more economically equal society are failing.

In this post we are not interested in the growing “black middle class”. We are concerned with the exclusion of the masses of South African people from the economy – especially the youth. Consider that >>

White people are more likely to find work. And once they do, they also earn better. Between 2011 and 2015, a white person earned R24 646 per month on average, more than three times the R6 899 of their black counterparts (source).

We have to de-normalise the poverty of the indigenous people of South Africa. We have to de-normalise the landlessness, unemployment and backyard dwelling culture that the current system continues to impose on the poor.

As long as we accept that it is normal for the masses of South Africans to suffer in poverty and for Apartheid era inequalities to persist, we have ourselves to blame. As long as we accept that politicians deserve to be rich but the masses must suffer, we have ourselves to blame.

It is not normal and we cannot accept these conditions; they are immoral and unethical. We must change the situation for our children. Remember that we did not live in poverty like this before 1652.

Once we mentally DE-NORMALISE indigenous poverty and landlessness in southern Africa then we can start taking actions that are necessary to reverse poverty and landlessness.