South Africa is the most unequal country in the world and its poverty is the “enduring legacy of apartheid”, says World Bank

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South Africa is the most unequal country in the world and its poverty is the “enduring legacy of apartheid”, according to a report by the World Bank.

Inequality in the country has increased since the end of the apartheid with black South Africans at the highest risk of poverty, the report found.

It added that it was the most unequal of the 149 countries which the World Bank analysed using the Gini Index, an economic tool which looks at consumption and expenditure to measure inequality.

It was closely followed by its neighbours Namibia and Botswana.

Despite significant poverty reduction in South Africa between the end of apartheid in 1994 and 2011, at least 2.5 million more South Africans have fallen into poverty since 2011, the report found. 

More than half of the population currently lives below the national poverty line. The group most at risk of poverty are black South Africans, the report found.

“The chronically poor group is almost exclusively made up of black and coloured South Africans,” the World Bank said.

In 2015, the University of South Africa found that the top one per cent of South Africans own 70.9 per cent of the country’s wealth while the bottom 60 percent only holds just seven per cent.

The World Bank found  that in South Africa poverty has a “strong spatial dimension”, which demonstrates the “enduring legacy of apartheid”.

“Poverty remains concentrated in previously disadvantaged areas, such as the former homelands,” it said. The report was released days before the death of Winnie Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid activist and ex-wife of Nelson Mandela who died in 2013. 

The former head of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that inequality has remained “stubbornly high”.

World Bank South African director Paul Noumba Um said that South Africa “has made significant progress in reducing poverty”.

But, he added, “the triple challenge of high poverty, high inequality, and high unemployment persists”.