The chart below shows the percentage of the population and their corresponding income share by geographical type in South Africa, based on analysis conducted using the National Income Dynamics Study (NiDS).
The data is derived from Arden Finn, Murray Leibbrandt and Ingrid Woolard (2009) Expenditure Inequality: Analysis of the NIDS Wave 1 Dataset NiDS Discussion Paper No.5.on/discussion-papers.
The chart shows that a large percentage of South Africans live in tribal areas. There is a significant overlap between the “tribal areas” in a democratic South Africa, and the “bantustans” (or so-called “homelands”) in the apartheid era. Significantly, the share of income for tribal areas when compared as a percentage of the population is extremely small. It shows that the reality of apartheid spatial patterns of income distribution remains largely intact. Yet, it is an economic reality that does not feature strongly in economic policy making.
The New Growth Path (NGP) [PDF Link] however begins to recognise this reality, arguing that:
The poorest regions of the country, with the highest unemployment rates and most vulnerable workers, are the former Bantustan and commercial farming areas. Areas considered rural today developed historically as impoverished labour reserves for the urban economy, and not as viable economic zones. Still, the agricultural value chain offers major opportunities in these areas for employment creation through smallholder schemes and the processing and sale of agricultural products. Improvements in livelihoods for rural dwellers are possible by upgrading farmworkers’ conditions and organisation and helping rural households increase production. Other jobs drivers, notably the public sector and social economy, tourism and infrastructure, can also contribute.
It is a recognition that must be core to economic and social policy making in South Africa, if structural inequality and unemployment are to be addressed.
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