The figures that show SA is the most unequal country in the world

A new report from Oxfam South Africa shows how the average (white, male) CEO takes home as much as 461 black women from the bottom ten percent of earners.

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The South African arm of global NGO Oxfam has released a report which reveals that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world.

Titled 'Reclaiming Power: Womxn’s Work and Income Inequality in South Africa', the report shows how the average (white, male) CEO takes home as much as 461 black womxn from the bottom 10% of earners. (The term womxn is used, especially in intersectional feminism, as an alternative spelling to woman to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the sequences m-a-n and m-e-n, and to be inclusive of trans and nonbinary women. Source:

Labour market inequality is foundational to stubborn gender, race, income and wealth inequality.

It adds that existing government policies have failed to reduce inequality because macroeconomic policies have entrenched rather than reduced the dominance of a handful of conglomerates based in extractives and energy.

This skewed industrial structure, established during apartheid, has led to a decline of manufacturing, jobless growth, asset price inflation and investment volatility in the era of financialisation, while crowding out the informal sector’s ability to absorb unemployment.

According to Oxfam, addressing the crisis of inequality in South Africa therefore needs to go much further than the labour market reforms, skills development policies and microsupport for the informal sector that have been advocated by mainstream economists.

Long-term, socially sustainable distributions of income would require radical transformation of the economy towards more labour intensive, linked sectors that serve the needs of the population - for example via a developmental welfare state across health, education and other social needs - rather than the imperatives of profit and capital expatriation.

Specific policies to reduce labour market inequality - such as a living wage, a maximum income cap no higher than 10% of the income of the lowest paid worker in firm, and making workplaces safe for women - must be rooted in macroeconomic policy that reorients away from the ‘Minerals Energy Complex’ and expansion of the financial sector in and of itself, towards industrial policy aimed at promoting sustainable and equitable economic development.

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