JOHANNESBURG – White South Africans earn six times more than black South Africans nearly two decades after the end of apartheid and much remains to be done to reduce the disparities between rich and poor, the president said after the release of the country's census.
"These figures tell us at the bottom of the rung is the black majority who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment, and inequality, despite the progress that we have made since 1994," President Jacob Zuma said of the South Africa Census 2011 released on Tuesday.
On the positive side, people's access to basic services, such as clean water, electricity and garbage removal has more than doubled in the same amount of time, he said. And more South African dwellings have TVs than refrigerators and more cellphones than electric or gas stoves, the census said.
South Africa's population has increased by 7 million people in the last decade to 51.8 million by October 2011, according to the census. And for the first time in the three censuses conducted since 1994, the number of people identifying themselves as colored — a term used by the government for people of mixed race — is higher, at 4.62 million, than those who describe themselves as white at 4.59 million. More than 41 million describe themselves as black and 1.3 million as Indian or Asian.
A breakdown of the population also shows that close to 60 percent of the population is under 35. There are more children under the age of four, with 5.6 million, than in each of the 5-to-9 or 10-to-14 age brackets.
The average household income in South Africa has more than doubled in the past decade, according to the census, which said that households earned an average of 48,000 rand ($6,000) per year in 2001 compared to 103,204 rand ($12,900) by October 2011.
Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said the income distribution among race and gender groups was the most startling of the figures.
"It confirms our worst fears and I think it presents us with an enormous challenge," he said.
The average annual income for black households was 60,613 rand ($7,500) in 2011, according to the census, while white households earned an average of 365,134 rand ($45,600) per year.
Meanwhile, households headed by women earned on average 67,330 rand ($8,400) in 2011, compared to 128,329 rand ($16,000) for male counterparts.
The census figures on services said nearly 1.3 million households did not have access to piped water, and the majority of those households are black.
Poverty also remains an issue with more than 1.2 million "informal" dwellings around the nation, including squatter camps, but not including the 712, 956 shacks. And while just over 8.2 million households have flushing toilets that connect to a sewage system, 748,597 households around the country have no toilets at all.
"Much remains to be done to further improve the livelihoods of our people especially in terms of significant disparities that still exist between the rich and poor," said President Zuma. "Government departments must now use this information wisely in planning for the extension of services."
He referenced a National Development Plan to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality and address the problem of unemployment. The plan says that the poor should be able to have a toilet, clean water, food, stable housing and heat by the year 2030. It also says that each community will have a school, library, teachers, a police station with "upright" police and a health clinic with nurses.