Thursday, April 08, 2010

South African blacks debilitated by their sense of entitlement - The Economist

As whites account for 40% of university graduates, a 12% quota for whites in skilled or top managerial positions is absurd, the South African Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank, says. Its head, John Kane-Berman, argues that BEE, in the way it has so far been implemented, has actually harmed blacks by discouraging self-reliance and an entrepreneurial spirit. Instead it has fostered a debilitating sense of entitlement.
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IT IS now widely agreed that “black economic empowerment” (BEE) and affirmative-action laws brought in after apartheid as the star policies of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) have failed. Even President Jacob Zuma seems to agree. Instead of redistributing wealth and positions to the black majority, they have resulted mainly in “a few individuals benefiting a lot,” he says, while leaving the leadership of most big companies in white hands. The black masses, the intended beneficiaries, have hardly gained.

Largely as a result of the emergence of this new BEE elite, post-apartheid South Africa is still one of the most unequal countries in the world. Although poverty has been alleviated by providing welfare benefits to more than one in four of South Africa’s 49m inhabitants, the gulf between rich and poor has widened. The richest 4% of South Africans—a quarter of whom are black—now earn more than $80,000 a year, 100 times what most of their compatriots live on.

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