Inequality is back in focus in SA following a damning World Bank report released in late 2018 and presidential commitment to economic inclusion at the launch of the “stimulus and recovery package” and at the “jobs summit”. There is growing political currency attached to evoking the country’s income and consumption disparities. Inequality has become SA’s soft underbelly, fair game for populists and profiteers. But it should never have come to this. Since inheriting an economy that was designed to make us unequal, SA’s inability to improve its indicators of inequality is the result of incomplete land reform, water allocation reform and broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) programmes, compounded by private sector apathy in assuming that this was not their problem. The failure is a source of frustration and embarrassment to all of us involved in public policy. If you scratch below the surface of the Gini co-efficient or the Theil index, you find that current access to public ser...

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