Letter: Assigning the state a colour muddies water - The Star, 4th July 2012.

The Research Manager, Lucy Holborn, says that if we are to meaningfully assess the control of the economy in the hands of ordinary black and white South Africans, assigning the state a colour may be muddying the water.

 Sir,

Dave Steward of the F W de Klerk Foundation is right to point out that the issue of the ownership of the economy is more complex than Jacob Zuma and his party would have us believe. However, Mr Steward’s claim that 50-51% of the economy is in black hands is not entirely straightforward either. It is based on the assumption (which Mr Steward is open about) that the State (and its share of the economy) is in black hands, and under the previous regime had been in white hands. However, if the State is excluded, the figures tell a different story. Based on Mr Steward’s own figures, without the State and state-owned enterprises, black ownership of the economy will have gone from 12% before 1994 to 13.4% now. White ownership would have gone from around 44% before 1994 to 32.5% now. Interestingly, state ownership of the economy has gone up from 32% to 37%, arguably cause for concern in itself. Assuming that foreign ownership of the economy has probably grown since before 1994, we can guess that it has gone from approximately 12% to 17%. Mr Steward could argue that it is only fair to aggregate black ownership and state ownership given that the current government often describes itself as a black one, and equally, the previous government could accurately be described as a white one. However, if we are to meaningfully assess the control of the economy in the hands of ordinary black and white South Africans, assigning the State a colour may be muddying the water.

Lucy Holborn

Research Manager, South African Institute of Race Relations

 

(To read the article on The Star's website please click here).

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