Former apartheid-era president FW de Klerk told the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday night that South Africa was worse off now than during apartheid.
“South Africa is a more unequal society in 2019 then it was in 1994 and is now the most unequal society in the world,” he said.
The second part of his statement is based on a report by the World Bank released in April 2018 that put South Africa at the top of a list of countries most plagued by inequality.
The Human Rights Commission compiled an inequality report last year which came to the same conclusion.
However, the World Bank report indicated the opposite of what De Klerk did regarding South Africa’s trajectory since 1994. It “shows that, overall, poverty levels are lower today compared to 1994”.
It also said that “South Africa has made progress in reducing poverty since 1994” even though “the trajectory of poverty reduction was reversed between 2011 and 2015, threatening to erode some of the gains made since 1994”.
The former state president, who was the last of the apartheid-era and whose government paved the way for democracy, said: “Inequality has also grown within all our communities, levels of inequality within the black community are now as high in the country as a whole.”
De Klerk, who shares a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela from 1993, did not lay the blame regarding South Africa’s poverty at the current president’s feet.
“I believe, ladies and gentlemen, that Cyril Ramaphosa is sincere in his efforts to restore the integrity of state institutions and the state-owned enterprises after many of them were captured by his predecessor and his Gupta cronies,” he said.
“However,” he added, “the key test will be the degree to which the truths now being exposed in the Zondo commission and others will have consequences for the perpetrators.”