The last ten years have seen an increase in the number of black people moving up to the middle class, said Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe on Sunday.
Releasing the 2014 developmental indicators, he said that while there was a significant improvement in living standards, the inequality gap has widened.
“Despite rising average income levels and the rise in the black middle class, levels of inequality have remained high, with the richest 10% of households capturing over half of the national income,” he said.
Research by the African Development Bank last year revealed that the South African black middle class is now larger than the white middle class. This is largely due to affirmative action, which has played a major role in providing equal opportunities in the workplace.
“While there has been progress in addressing the legacy of apartheid, inequality is still largely defined along racial lines,” Radebe said.
And while there is a noteworthy improvement in South Africans’ living standards, factors such as corruption still have a negative impact on the country’s economic growth.
“South Africa’s corruption perception score improved in 2014. Despite the slight improvement, the perception of corruption in South Africa and our consequent poor performance when compared to other countries are not what they should be. Corruption in both the public and private sectors impedes service delivery, undermines public confidence in the state and the economy, and reduces economic growth, competitiveness and investment,” said Radebe.
The other challenges include poor GDP growth, unemployment, income inequality, increasing government debt and weaker global competitiveness.
“The challenges still facing our country are immense. A number of the indicators are stable at low levels, or demonstrate emerging trends, but the pace of change is slow to reach desired levels within the set time frame,” he said.
The key positive performance indicators for last year are:
- Poverty has decreased since 1994.
- Life expectancy has improved from 52,7 years in 2004 to 61,2 years in 2014.
- Death of infants has decreased from 58 to 34 deaths per 1 000 live births between 2002 and 2014.
- There has been great progress in the fight against HIV/Aids, with 3,5 million people now on antiretrovirals, compared to 2,8 million last year.
- The number of children attending early childhood development institutions has increased.