While various positions are advanced, there is broad agreement that poverty exists on a vast scale, that it is closely correlated with race and that, by many indicators, the situation has deteriorated since the transition to democracy.
South Africa is an upper-middle income country. Despite this relative wealth, the experience of the majority of South African households is either one of outright poverty,or of continued vulnerability to becoming poor. The distribution of income and wealth in South Africa may be the most unequal in the world.
According to the HSRC (2004) the proportion of people living in poverty in South Africa in 2001 was 57%, unchanged from 1996, but that the extent of poverty (i.e. how far people are below the poverty income line) grew over this period:
The poverty gap has grown faster than the economy indicating that poor households have not shared in the benefits of economic growth. In 1996 the total poverty gap [the required annual income transfer to bring all households out of poverty] was equivalent to 6.7% of gross domestic product (GDP); by 2001 it had risen to 8.3%.
____________________________ source:http://r4d.dfid.gov.uk/PDF/Outputs/ESRC_DFID/60332_Lahiff_Redistributive.pdf in the article REDISTRIBUTIVE LAND REFORM AND POVERTY REDUCTION IN SOUTH AFRICA-Edward Lahiff