It is misleading to keep using race as a "proxy" for "disadvantage"
About six weeks ago the leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mmusi Maimane, said, "We dream of living in a society where race is no longer a proxy for disadvantage". His dream has come true – so much so that it is not only unnecessary, but also misleading, to keep using race as a proxy. The evidence is conclusive.
The proportion of the top living standards category (LSM 10) accounted for by black Africans has risen from 5% in 2004 to 30% in 2015. In the next three highest LSMs, their proportion now heavily outnumbers that of whites. Black Africans also outnumber whites classified as middle class. Estimates of the size of this class vary between 4.2 million and double that, but one study three years ago showed that black Africans accounted for more than half of middle-class people.
It is hardly surprising then that between 2005 and 2013, according to FNB, the proportion of buyers of property in previously-white suburbs who were black African grew from 23% to 32%. Looking at home ownership more broadly, Statistics South Africa figures for 2016 showed that black Africans owned 424 000 mortgaged homes, against a figure for whites of 408 000. (If fully paid-off properties – including state-provided housing – are taken into account, black Africans own 12 times as many as whites).
In 2016, there were 5.2 million households with annual incomes above R132 000. Almost 40% of these were black African households. In 2017, there were almost 11 million motor vehicles registered in South Africa – more than three times the total number of whites old enough to qualify for driving licences.
Turning to education, whites were awarded 20 924 first degrees by universities in 2015, the figure for black Africans being 54 631 – almost three times as high. The total number of whites with degrees was 632 000; the total number of black Africans holding degrees was 837 000.