An Overview of Women s Work and Employment in South Africa

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An Overview of Women s Work and Employment in South Africa

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An Overview of Women’s Work and Employment in South Africa
Decisions for Life MDG3 Project Country report No. 3
University of Amsterdam / Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS)
www.uva.nl/aias Maarten van Klaveren, Kea Tijdens, Melanie Hughie-Williams, Nuria Ramos Martin
email: [email protected] Amsterdam, Netherlands, August 2009
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Table of Contents

Management summary

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1. Introduction: The Decisions for Life project

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2. Gender a nalysis regarding work and employment

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2.1. Introduction: the general picture ........................................................................................................ 8

2.1.1. History

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2.1.2. Governance

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2.1.3. Prospects

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2.2. Communications.................................................................................................................................. 14

2.3. The sectoral labour market structure ............................................................................................... 15

2.3.1. The long-term development

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2.3.2. Formal and informal employment

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2.3.3. Unemployment

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2.4. National legislation and labour relations ........................................................................................ 21

2.4.1. Legislation

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2.4.2. Labour relations

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2.5. Wage-setting and minimum wage.................................................................................................... 26

2.5.1. The minimum wage

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2.5.2. Poverty

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2.6. Demographics and female labour force........................................................................................... 31

2.6.1. Population and fertility

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2.6.2. HIV/AIDS

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2.6.3. Women’s labour market share

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2.6.4. Agriculture

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2.6.5. Mining and manufacturing

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2.6.6. Commerce

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2.6.7. Services

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2.6.8. Government

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2.7. Education and skill levels of the female labour force.................................................................... 41

2.7.1. Literacy

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2.7.2. Education of girls

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2.7.3. Female skill levels

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2.8. Wages and working conditions of the target group ...................................................................... 44

2.8.1. Wages

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2.8.2. Working conditions

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2.8.3. Indications of employers’ HR practices

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3. Basic information for WageIndicator questionnaire

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3.1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 50

3.2. List of trade unions.............................................................................................................................. 50

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3.3. List of educational categories and ISCED levels ............................................................................ 55

3.4. List of regions ....................................................................................................................................... 55

3.5. Lists of racial groups and languages ................................................................................................ 60

3.5.1. Racial groups

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3.5.2. Languages

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4. References

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5. What is WageIndicator?

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Management summary
This report provides information on South Africa on behalf of the implementation of the DECISIONS FOR LIFE project in that country. The DECISIONS FOR LIFE project aims to raise awareness amongst young female workers about their employment opportunities and career possibilities, family building and the work-family balance. This report is part of the Inventories, to be made by the University of Amsterdam, for all 14 countries involved. It focuses on a gender analysis of work and employment.
History (2.1.1). After 1948, the authoritarian system of racial segregation under white minority dominance was formalised and intensified into “grand apartheid”. Skilled jobs were reserved for whites. Forced by the liberalisation struggle led by the ANC and under growing international pressure, in 1989 the apartheid regime pronounced its own death sentence. Since 1994, subsequent ANC administrations govern, first with a free-market economic strategy (GEAR), later with a stronger public sector orientation. From 2004 on, the GDP-per-person-employed growth pattern has been volatile.
Governance (2.1.2). After 1994, new social movements emerged, often adressing governmental failures. These movements, notably the women’s movement, maintain a complex relationship with the mainstream of the nationalist movement based on the anti-apartheid struggle. With the 2009 elections, women representation in parliament increased to 43%.
Prospects (2.1.3). The global economic and financial crisis has seriously hit the South African economy, with in the first half year of 2009 a fall in employment of 360,000 compared to a year earlier. The economy remains vulnerable, especially for falling global commodities demand.
Communication (2.2). In 2007, 42.3 million cell phones were in use, nine on each ten South Africans. In 2008 nearly 10% of the population used the Internet. Freedom of press is rather well-guaranteed. Female sources are rarely used for news broadcasting.
The sectoral labour market structure – The long-term development (2.3.1). After rapid growth in female employment from 1970 on, in 1995-2000 growth in the formal sector slowed down. Afterwards, it remained limited to commerce, finance and community and related services.
The sectoral labour market structure – Formal and informal employment (2.3.2) After growing quickly between 1995 and 2003, informal employment stabilized. In 2007, 27% of the total workforce, 38% of the African workforce and 34% of all employed women worked in the informal sector. Facing that about 30% of all formal sector workers does not have a written contract, and with many in temporary or casual labour, we estimate for 2007 the share of core workers at 5.2 million, 38% of the labour force at large.
The sectoral labour market structure – Unemployment (2.3.3). Unemployment is especially high among African women and youngsters. Recently unemployment of African women (according to the official narrow definition) stood at 31%, and unemployment of young women at 52%. Nearly half of all unemployed women were new entrants to the labour market.
Legislation (2.4.1). South Africa has ratified the core ILO Labour Conventions, and its laws are nondiscriminatory. Its labour legislation is highly codified and complicated.
Labour relations (2.4.2). 2008 estimates point at union densities of 24% over all employed, with 20% female density, or 31% in the formal sector against 3% in the informal sector. After a series of mergers, three union confederations are in place, COSATU, SACOTU and CONSAWU, all ITUC affiliates.
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The statutory minimum wage (2.5.1). For nine vulnerable sectors, the Minister of Labour issues minimum wage determinations, with levels between 19 to 72% of average monthly wages in the respective sectors. The lowest minimum wages are set at 125% of the upper poverty line. Jointly with the minimum wage floors in collective agreements at industry level, 85% of the female labour force is covered by regulations laying down minimum wages.Non-compliance with minimum wages is generally a large problem.
Poverty (2.5.2). For 2000-06, it has been estimated that 43% of the population lived under the poverty line of USD 2 a day. Between 1995-2000, poverty grew among the African population. From 2002 on, with the expansion of social grants payments, povery decreased. Especially where access to basic services is still limited, the burden of poverty falls heavily on women and girls. In 2006, South Africa ranked 125th on the human development index (HDI), 49 places below its GDP per capita rank.
Population and fertility (2.6.1). Due to the HIV/AIDS prevalence and to emigration, population growth rate is falling and, with 0.3% in 2008, quite low. The total fertility rate (2.4%) and the adolescent fertility rate (67 per 1,000) are also comparatively low.
HIV/AIDS (2.6.2). In 2007, about 5.7 million South African people lived with HIV, and the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate for those aged 15-49 was estimated at 18%. New HIV infections disproportionately affect young poor females, mostly African. Yet, progress is going on in the struggle against the pandemic; recently a decrease of HIV prevalence among the 15-24 of age has been found.
Women’s labour market share (2.6.3). The overall labour partication rate of the 15-64 of age is only 57%, and for women 50%. The female share in the formal sector was in 2007 40%, and in the informal sector 55%. We estimate the current size of the target group of DECISIONS FOR LIFE for South Africa at about 1.4 million girls and young women 15-29 of age working in urban areas in commercial services.
Agriculture (2.6.4). Large commercial enterprises dominate agriculture, and the employment share of agriculture is only about 8%. Thus, young women living in cities and trying to make a career rarely can rely on a “fall-back scenario” in which they can go back to their families living from agriculture.
Mining and manufacturing (2.6.5). Since the late 1990s, much manufacturing work have been outsourced and casualised, and manufacturing has become a less promising source of employment for women. The official figures indicate that still one-third of manfacturing employment is female.
Commerce (2.6.6). Though 1970-2007 wholesale and retail trade was the largest grower, 2007-’09 witnessed a serious fall in employment, especially hitting African women and men. In the 1990s practices of casualisation and externationalisation of labour accelerated in the retail sector.
Services (2.6.7). Already since 1970, finance, insurance and other business services was the fastest growing industry. Between 2007 and April – June 2009, employment growth continued, and even speeded up for women. The government has labeled call centres and tourism especially promising sectors, and they seem to realise their potential.
Government (2.6.8). In the course of the 2000s budgetary constraints lowered employment prospects in the public sector. Analyses show monthly wages of public sector workers being higher than comparable wages in the private sector at large. They also learn that the public sector has moved faster to ensure wage equity in terms of gender and population group than the private sector.
Literacy (2.7.1). The adult literacy rate –those age 15 and over that can read and write—was in 1999-2006 88%. A gender gap is small or non-existent in literacy. In 2007, the literacy rate for 15-24 year-olds was set at 95%.
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Education of girls and young women (2.7.2). Enrollment rates in all educational types are highest for girls. For 2007, net enrollment in primary education was 91%, with 92% for girls, though in 2000 both figures were 5%points higher. Also for 2007, gross enrollment in secondary education was 87%, with 89% for girls. For 2005, the enrollment rate for tertiary education was 15.5%, and 17% for young women. Female skill levels (2.7.3). Whereas in 2009 50% of the female employed had completed secondary or tertiary education, the equivalent male share got stuck at 45.5%. Nearly 21% of employed women had completed their tertiairy education, 4%points more than men. African women have on average also attained a higher educational level than African men, both among employed and unemployed. Wages (2.8.1). Overall wage inequality grew between 1995 and 1998/2000, but reversed afterwards, though the earnings differences between population groups still grew. Since 2000, the gender pay gap has narrowed, but it is with 25-35% still wide. Higher education is very important in determining wages, with a vocational education, a degree and a postgraduate degree being most important. A vocational qualification was found to be more important for higher wages for females than for males. Average earnings in the formal sector are highest in utilities and transport etc., and lowest in wholesale and retail, and construction. Working conditions (2.8.2). A number of occupational health and safety problems persist, like resistant tuberculosis among mine and health care workers. Working hours are quite long, with in 2009 25% of women and 35% of men working more than 45 hours per week. Indications of employers’ HR practices (2.8.3). The major challenge in HR policies is the need to move to employment equity, fair pay and skills development. Early accounts did not find much progress in this field. The adoption of new HR practices in large companies can combine with a strong union presence.
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1. Introduction: The Decisions for Life project
The DECISIONS FOR LIFE project aims to raise awareness amongst young female workers about their employment opportunities and career possibilities, family building and the work-family balance. The lifetime decisions adolescent women face, determine not only their individual future, but also that of society: their choices are key to the demographic and workforce development of the nation.
DECISIONS FOR LIFE focuses on 14 developing countries, notably Brazil, India, Indonesia, the CIS countries Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and the southern African countries Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Project partners are ITUC, UNI, WageIndicator Foundation, and University of Amsterdam/AIAS.
DECISIONS FOR LIFE is awarded a MDG3 grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of its strategy to support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals no 3 (MDG3): “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women”. DECISIONS FOR LIFE more specifically focuses on MDG3.5: “Promoting formal employment and equal opportunities at the labour market”, which is one of the four MDG3 priority areas identified in Ministry’s MDG3 Fund. DECISIONS FOR LIFE runs from October 2008 until June 2011 (See http://www.wageindicator.org/main/projects/decisions-for-life).
This report is part of the Inventories, to be made by the University of Amsterdam, for all 14 countries involved. These Inventories and the underlying gender analyses are listed in the Table. All reports will be posted at the project website. In this country report on South Africa the sequence of the sections differs from the table. The report covers mainly Activity nr 1.03, the Gender analysis regarding pay and working conditions (or, as Chapter 2 is called here, work and employment). Partly included (in section 2.4.1) is Activity 1.01, Inventories of national legislation; partly the analysis of national legislation has resulted in a separate product, the DecentWorkCheck for South Africa. Activity 1.02, Inventories of companies’ regulations, will take place through a company survey. Preparations for Activities 1.03a and 1.03b have resulted in a number of lists, to be used in the WageIndicator web-survey for countryspecific questions and their analyses (Chapter 3). References can be found in Chapter 4; Chapter 5 gives more insight in the WageIndicator.

Table 1 Nr 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.03a 1.03b

Activities for DECISIONS FOR LIFE by the University of Amsterdam Inventories Inventories of national legislation Inventories of companies’ regulations Gender analysis regarding pay and working conditions Gender analysis start-up design of off-line gender analyses inventory Gender analysis data-entry for off-line use inventories

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2. Gender a nalysis regarding work and employment
2.1. Introduction: the general picture
2.1.1. History
Rock paintings indicate the presence of a developed human culture in South Africa already 2,600 years ago. The European presence in South Africa was introduced by Portuguese and English explorers, before the Dutch colonization of the Cape of Good Hope began in 1652 under the Dutch East India Company (VOC) commander Jan van Riebeeck. The British first occupied the Cape in 1795. ‘Wars of Dispossession’ between Dutch, and later British, colonists and the indigenous Xhosa people followed. In 1834, the first Boer descendants of the Dutch settlers began their ‘Great Trek’, leading to the establishment of the two Boer republics, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) ultimately led to the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The defeat of the Boers (Afrikaners) was followed in 1910 by the establishment of the Union of South Africa.
Soon, ‘Bantu’ laws and regulations were woven into the fabric of the labour code for African workers, directing their labour according to the desires of white authority. Most drastic was the Natives Land Act of 1913, which gradually stripped the black African population of their right to own land, and forced them to remove to distant and infertile rural areas, the ‘homelands’, till over 80% of the population was restricted to 13% of the country’s land area. Africans were deprived from the rights to engage in collective bargaining and to strike, while their unions could not obtain legal status. From 1948 on, when the Afrikaner whites elected the Nationalist Party to power, the successive NP governments under Malan, Strijdom, Verwoerd and Vorster formalised and intensified the authoritarian system of racial segregation under white minority dominance into ‘grand apartheid.’ Throughout the 1960s South Africa became a fortress of white power and prosperity, experiencing one of the world’s highest rates of economic growth. Based on the system of forced labour of expropriated blacks and their related extremely low wages, the country became leading in the exploitation of gold and other minerals and attracted massive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), especially from the UK, the USA, France, and Germany. A vast bureaucracy controlled the system of job reservation, reserving almost all skilled jobs for white workers. In the 1960s and 1970s, the government used the pass law system to push Africans out of the ‘white’ areas, resulting in over two million men circulating as migrants between their homes and urban employment, mostly deprived from normal family and social life, and millions of others commuting in packed buses and trains (Hepple 1971; Van Klaveren 1985, 1987; Meredith 2005).
The organized struggle for liberation had begun early in the 20th century. Milestones included the establishment of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912 and that of the first black trade union in 1919. In the 1940s a militant mood grew among the Africans; in 1949 the ANC adopted its programme of action, including civil disobedience; the 1950s saw the Defiance Campaign against the pass laws, and the Congress of the People agreeing upon the Freedom Charter (1955). The 1960s marked a period of heavy oppression, with the Sharpeville and Langa massacres and the banning of black political organizations as well as the arrest of leaders like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. In the 1970s resistance politics were renewed, with the revived union movement and the 1973 Durban strikes; the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) led by Steve Biko; and the organization of black students (SASO), culminating in the 1976 Soweto uprising and consequently the student revolt – with such overcrowded townships becoming key grounds for political organisation. Between 1976 and 1981, the
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white government declared four homelands (Transkei, Bophutshatswana, Venda and Ciskei) ‘independent’, and about eight million Africans lost their South African citizenship.
The apartheid system came under increasing strain. By 1970 a serious shortage of skilled labour was hampering economic growth. Some white businessmen argued that scrapping the job reservation system and educating the black labour force was the only way out. The killing of Steve Biko and police shooting innocent schoolchildren fuelled the anti-apartheid movement worldwide. Though confronted with massive repression and arrests, the liberation struggle intensified throughout the 1980s with the formation of the two trade union confederations, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU, 1985) and National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU, 1986), successful local consumer boycotts, and growing strike activity. Against this backdrop the apartheid regime, from 1978 on led by P.W. Botha, was forced to review the issue of black employment. It abolished the job reservation system and set up commissions of enquiry, resulting in laws concerning occupational safety and conditions of employment. Labour relations legislation that followed began to regulate strike activity, union registration, membership and activity, but retained strong elements of racial discrimination. Occupational barring made way for job division or outright wage discrimination against African, Coloured and Asian/Indian workers (Brookes and Hinks 2004; Ryan 2007).
Botha’s moves were too little and too late. Since 1980 the apartheid economy was stuck between low raw material prices in the world market and the sheer cost of an expanding military and police machinery, including the cost of supporting the UNITA and RENAMO rebels in their efforts to undermine the new Angolese and Mozambican governments. Inflation and foreign debt rose quickly, while exports, investment and real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita fell from year to year. Under worldwide criticism of the apartheid system and at long last American and European sanctions, the migration stream of skilled Europeans dried up. Large American and British multinationals pulled out of the country. Left alone by their western colleagues with a bankrupt’s estate, South African business tycoons realised they were approaching an abyss (Sampson 1987; Sampson 1999; Meredith 2005). Such were the conditions when, on 2 February 1990, Botha’s successor F.W. de Klerk announced to lift the ban on the ANC and to release Nelson Mandela, and opened up the prospect of a democratic constitution and universal suffrage. In doing so, De Klerk pronounced the death sentence of apartheid (Meredith 2005, 436).
After four years of skirmishes and negotiations, a new interim constitution paved the way for national elections. The polls of 26 April 1994 resulted in a victory for the ANC and consequently in its majority rule, on the basis of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). The new government was confronted with ‘two nations’. For 1994, the UN Human Development Report (1996) indicated that, if white South Africa was treated as a separate country, its standard of living would rank 24th in the world, just below Spain’s, while black South Africa on the same basis would rank 123rd. Moreover, after Mandela’s inauguration as president the new government quickly found out that South Africa’s economy was in dire straits, with a record budget deficit, hardly any foreign exchange reserves, and immense unemployment. Mandela defended the cautious and conservative economic policies of his government to the criticism of trade unionists and ANC comrades. However, in the course of the 1990s it became clear that the formal sector of the economy could absorb few new entrants to the labour market, and that only a small share of the black community escaped from poverty (Meredith 2005).
Soon, the social democratic RDP was abandoned in favour of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) economic strategy. In this orthodox restructuring program, adjustment to globalisation and integration in the world market, trade liberalisation and attracting FDI, were major policy targets (Carmody 2002). So were deregulation, privatisation of parastatal companies, and
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encouragement of the private sector—as then president Thabo Mbeki, from 1999 on Mandela’s successor, stated: “(….) we must strive to create and strengthen a black capitalist class” (Meredith 2005, 666). The related policy of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), formalised by law and aiming at companies handing over ownership to black consortia, met growing criticism of the COSATU union confederation and black business, arguing that only a small, politically connected black elite (with sometimes white tycoons behind them) benefited and that BEE did little to nurture entrepreneurship (Freund 2007; Tangri and Southall 2008; FT 2007, 2009).
The only stated target of GEAR that has been reached is that of reducing the fiscal deficit (Aliber 2003, 476). Furthermore, as we will see, public infrastructure like the access to safe water, sanitation and housing has been improved. Budgetary constraints, however, growingly frustrate further improvement. Foreign direct investment (FDI) might have been important to compensate for the very low level of domestic savings that we already noted. In contrast, each year between 1994-2004 saw a net outflow of FDI from the country (UNCTAD 2005). The fundamental problem was and is that South African economic growth is near-jobless. Between 1995-2000, slow growth went hand in hand with small employment growth -- resulting in growing unemployment of the low-skilled Black population. A process of pro-poor (or shared) growth did not take off (Hoogeveen and Özler 2005, 13). Under pressure of campaigns of civil society organisations, including unions, the government introduced another economic strategy - the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGI-SA). Based on massive public works programmes (PWPs) and other government investment, attention to identified priority sectors for accelerated growth (notably tourism and call centres), and enlarged education and training efforts, the stated aim of ASGI-SA is to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014 (NALEDI 2004).
The years 2000-2003 showed rather abundant economic growth, driven by parallel booms of commodity prices on international markets and, internally, consumer spending fuelled by increasing social grants. In 2000, the GDP growth rate per person employed was 3.9%, in 2001 4.7%, in 2002 3.4% and in 2003 2.6%. A more volatile growth pattern characterized the years that followed 2004 witnessed a negative growth rate of the GDP per person employed of 3.3%, followed by a recovery in 2005 of 5.0%, 2.6% growth in 2006, a fall of 0.2% in 2007 and 2.7% growth in 2008. From 2001-2006, the average yearly GDP growth per person employed was 2.5%, but the 2003-2008 average fell to 1.6% (MDG Indicator 1.4, derived from UN MDG Indicators) – lagging nearly 2%points behind comparable countries (peers) (Eyraud 2009). With (PPP) USD 9,087 yearly in 2006, the South African per capita GDP in the world ranked 76th of 179 countries. A huge gap remained between the estimated average male income of USD 12,637 and the average female income of only USD 5,647 (UNDP 2008a). Thus, the 2006 ratio of the average female to male income was 0.45. Basically, this gap is caused by the continuous existence of ‘two nations’ (though, as we will see, there are also more subtle mechanisms at hand). The South African labour market is highly segmented, with a high-skill tier characterized by a tight demand for white males and to a lesser extent females, while the low-skill tier displays an over-supply of African males and females.
The ANC has remained the majority party in subsequent national elections. The last 15 years have been marked by the introduction of a new constitution and extensive law reforms. In September 2008, after the resignment of President Thabo Mbeki; the April 2009 general elections brought Jacob Zuma as his successor in power. ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU continued their political alliance. The ANC Election Manifesto adopted five priority areas: decent work, education, health, (fighting) crime, and rural development.
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