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Black S. African Earning Power Rises

March 18, 2001

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ For the first time since the fall of apartheid, blacks are expected to collectively earn more than their white counterparts this year, a study published Sunday has found.

About 77 percent of the country’s 45 million people are black, while about 12 percent are white.

The study showed the total black work force last year earned 43.4 percent of the country’s net income of $77 billion, and whites 44 percent. People of Indian origin earned 4.7 percent and those of mixed race just under 8 percent.

In 2001, the collective earning power of blacks is expected to surpass that of whites, according to the study, which was conducted by the University of South Africa’s Bureau of Market Research and published in the Sunday Times newspaper.

``This is a milestone,″ said Saki Macozoma, the deputy chairman of Standard Bank. But he said most people will be surprised that blacks are not earning more than whites already ``because of the absolute numbers of people in each group.″

Under all-white rule, millions of blacks were stripped of their land, deprived of a decent education and barred from certain jobs, relegating them to a life of poverty.

Almost half the population remains desperately poor, although the advent of democracy has seen the emergence of a new black elite, the study said. Twenty-three percent of the country’s richest people are black, it added.

Sabelo Macingwane, chief executive officer of the National African Federation Chamber of Commerce, described the report as misleading, saying it gave the false impression that blacks were approaching economic parity with whites.

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