Anyone seeking a concise account of the South African government's failures in tackling poverty and inequality need look no further than its recently published "25-year review".
The review lists numerous projects and plans as part of its efforts to reduce unemployment and its "war on poverty". It then comments that these have not had "the envisaged" effect, even though various government programs have "cushioned" its "devastating impact". Poverty declined between 1993 and 2013, but has since increased, unemployment remaining "the largest contributor". Youth unemployment "rose sharply" between 2008 and 2018. As for Black Economic Empowerment policies, these have had a "negligible effect in redistributing wealth".
None of this should come as a surprise, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) having repeatedly warned that investment, economic growth, and job creation would be undermined by the government's never-ending cascade of interventionist policies, including racial preferencing and pro-union labour law.
The review says that "Today, South Africa is the most unequal society in the world". This claim is based on incomplete evidence. Earlier this year, the Helen Suzman Foundation pointed out that only 149 of the 218 countries and territories listed by the World Bank reported their Gini coefficients.
Also recently published, by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), is a lengthy study of "inequality trends". Making use of expenditure surveys, it shows that the Gini coefficient among black Africans in 2015 was higher than the figure for all three of the minority population groups. The black African figure thus stood at 0.57 against the figure for coloured people of 0.56, while the Indian/Asian figure was 0.45 and that for whites 0.41.
Since a Gini coefficient of zero indicates absolute equality, while a coefficient of one shows absolute inequality, these figures mean inequality is greater among black Africans than it is among the others.