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SA’s rich is too rich, says Piketty

- Erna van Wyk

Very limited data is available on wealth in SA and the country needs to be more transparent about income and wealth dynamics.

South Africa has become noticeably more unequal after 1994, says Professor Thomas Piketty, French economist and expert on wealth and inequality.

Speaking at Wits University on Thursday, 1 October 2015, he said research has shown that South Africa’s income inequality is extremely high by international and historical standards with the top 10% of the country’s rich sharing between 60 – 65% of the country’s total income.

However, there is very limited data available on wealth in South Africa and the country needs to be more transparent about income and wealth dynamics, especially wealth inequality.

His lecture, titled: Inequality in South Africa: What is to be done? Piketty highlighted the need for a progressive wealth tax and an increase the minimum wage.

Piketty is Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics is also the author of the international bestseller: Capital in the 21st Century.

In answering questions from the audience, Piketty said that historians and sociologists play an important role in seeking solution to inequality and that democratising economics should be a priority on every country: “Everyone should have an opinion about economy and wealth.

Piketty’s lecture was followed by a panel discussion with Professors Achille Mbembe (WiSER), Hlonipha Mokoena (WiSER), Chris Malikane (SEBS) and the Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Kuben Naidoo.


Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and Piketty highlighting the extremity of inequality in South Africa.