South Africa: affirmative action and inequality

by Fábio Zanini
Published: 19 April 2009 – Translated using Google (Please note this is a direct translation and does contain unintended errors)

A provocative article from Fábio Zanini, the sheet on the elections in South Africa he says that affirmative action created a rising black middle class. But deepened the social gap with the poor blacks. (click here for other materials on the elections in the country).

(…) “We walk a little in those years for which South Africa is a capitalist society normal, in which the most important component is the class, not race,” says Justin Sylvester, of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa .

But the race, as the analyst admits, still dominates the South African policy, and show the pieces of propaganda of the general election scheduled for next Wednesday, where the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has first black opposition. Still, it is favorite to maintain hegemony in Parliament and indirectly elect their candidate, Jacob Zuma, president.

Since 1994, the South African economy has had real growth (discounted for inflation) every year. Reached 5% between 2003 and 2007. Even with the global crisis, GDP should rise 1.3% in 2009.

Infant mortality and illiteracy fell, but the expectation of life, driven by AIDS and urban violence. Social inequality has increased, and the country sank in the Human Development Index, measured by the UN.

The government must answer to this, a promise that is repeated for each election. “Until now, our democracy has been felt by those who are able to seize it. Now is the time-poor, “said Lindiwe Zulu, spokesman for the ANC and former ambassador in Brazil.


Blacks are almost 80% of the population, half below the poverty line. The remainder, largely benefited from the ambitious BEE, an acronym that is so present today in the daily life of South Africans as the game of rugby.

This is the acronym in English for Black Economic Empowerment, or “black economic empowerment”, the main strategy of post-apartheid official to include the group once persecuted.

Companies are judged not only by the quality of service or lower price, but also the second of seven criteria including race, including the amount of black business owners, executives share of blacks and commitment to professional training. Based on these criteria, a note is established, determining the time of obtaining a contract, for example.

In recent years, an industry of consultants specializes in BEE flourished in South Africa set its Gavin Levenstein in 2005, the EconoBEE and invoice with training sessions for executives who want to get good grades in the test of the government. He teaches the best way to meet the stringent criteria for affirmative action.

“My clients are from companies that clean windows up to multinationals,” he says, which employs eight staff and has plans to expand. Like yours, there are 15 other specialist consultants in this field working in Johannesburg.

The certification process is a unique opportunity for corrupt officials from public agencies take advantage, as the government admits. And the fact that several cardinals of the ANC have become multimillionaires after apartheid, acting as advisers for BEE conglomerates, also does not help to dispel the perception that the scheme is flawed.

But all candidates for election of the fourth, aware that the GES is here to stay, promising to maintain it, after a full review and more stringent criteria of evaluation.

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