Two worlds in one country

2012-11-03 10:19

Well, the results of Census 2011 are in. They tell us everything about ourselves we care to know, and then some.

Bar a hurdle about provincial population figures, which is still to be cleared, the numbers show a country on the move . . . but one of remarkable extremes.

We report this week on the great challenge the census has revealed for us: in 12 council areas with lower-than-average sanitation and water availability, the rate of child deaths is very high, often double the national average.

What this shows is that an absence of development and death are tragically linked. The developmental dividend is not yet secured for the poor. Provinces that need the firmest attention are KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga, where the coincidence of death and underdevelopment are revealed in the census.

But here is the other story: the number of super-rich individuals (those whose income is R2.4 million a year or more) stands at 44 461, and we found them in some surprising nooks and crannies.

Wealth still has a racial face, though income figures show that black people, and women in general, are catching up – but too slowly.
 Economists suggest this pace of wealth accumulation means it will take four to five decades to bridge the gap. That’s too long.

South Africa is still too often two worlds in one country and hopefully the census will serve as a compass to point us in the right direction.

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