Ten percent of South Africa's population owns 90 percent of the country's wealth, while the wealthiest 10 percent earns seven times more than the bottom 40 percent. This is according to a report on equality released by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Thursday, Business Day reported.
The report by the Chapter 9 institution reportedly recommends that government must redistribute this "extreme wealth" belonging to those at the very top, and says that 60 percent of black South Africans live in poverty, while just 1 percent of white South Africans are that poor.
The report also found that the VAT increase implemented earlier this year "seriously threatens the human rights of the poor and is not Constitutionally justifiable". And the way that government is implementing its transformation is also not working, the SAHRC reportedly said.
The report apparently states: "The implementation of special measures in the employment equity sphere is currently misaligned to the constitutional objective of achieving substantive equality — to the extent that implementation may amount to rigid quotas and absolute barriers‚ as opposed to flexible targets. This practice may inadvertently set the foundations for new patterns of future inequality and economic exclusion within and among vulnerable population groups."
Income inequality in South Africa has only decreased by 0.01 percent in the last few years, said the report, according to Eyewitness News (EWN).
This means South Africa is the most unequal country in the world, according to the SAHRC.
According to EWN, researcher Shanelle van der Berg said on Thursday that government is not applying affirmative action policies properly. She said a "central coordinating body" is needed, that can track how government implements this.
According to Fin24, the SAHRC says government failure to plan properly is one of the reasons why the VAT increase happened, and that this is not fair on the poor.
"The poor cannot be expected to bear the burden of catalysing radical socio-economic transformation. Before regressive measures such as an increase in VAT can be justified, government must demonstrate that it expends its resources proportionately to socio-economic need, effectively and efficiently.
"The feasibility of mitigating the effects of a VAT increase for the poor, including the expansion of zero-rated goods and the expansion of social protection, should have been investigated by all relevant organs of state prior to the announcement of an increase in VAT.
"Wide-spread findings of irregular and corrupt expenditure at various levels of government render fiscal policy decisions such as an increase in VAT constitutionally suspect," the report said.