Opening address - Inaugural Restitution Conference, Castle of Good Hope

This event was well attended and enthusiastically received, Prof Swart'z book was launched  http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/events/events/another-country-book-launch. The upcoming seminar on Restitution http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/events/seminars/restitution-and-inequality will take place on 17 November 2016

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The first ever restitution conference in South Africa was hosted by the HSRC from 9 - 10 November 2016 at the very symbolic and historical place, the Castle of Good Hope.

Prof Sharlene Swartz from the HSRC addressed 320 people from 46 organisations which included civil society groups as well as universities during the opening ceremony on 09 November 2016.

Prof Swartz said that "We acknowledge that we are not the country that we were 23 years ago. No, now we are  a democracy, a young, vibrant and noisy one at that. Our constitution and our courts are strong, and exist to benefit us all not just  few. Our county has limitless potential, beauty and wealth. Our people are committed and passionate.

But we are not yet the country we want to be. A country where race no longer dominates;
where there is equal access to opportunities; where we know people who are different to us and have them as neighbours; a country in which poverty and inequality are a dim memory of the past."

So why a conference on restitution, and why now?

It is this poverty and these stark inequalities, still experienced along racial lines, that compels us to take restitution seriously. The following facts were highlighted:

1.    South Africa is the most unequal society in the world (Gini Coefficient of 0.65)
2.    Black South Africans have a household income 6 x smaller than that of White South Africans (R36k v. R6k a month)
3.    Black South Africans are 4 x more likely to be unemployed than White South Africans (34% v. 8%, expanded definition)
4.    60% of Black South Africans live on less than many of us spend on a cellphone contract  a month (60% live on under R670 a month, 2011 prices, v. 4% Whites)
5.    White South Africans own half the private land in South Africa
6.    South Africa is 116th on the Human Development Index (a measure of life expectancy, income and education) out of 200 or so countries; White South Africa is 15th - same as  the UK and Sweden and, better than France and Belgium
7.    18-24 year old White South Africans are 7 x more likely to be enrolled at university than Black youth of the same age
8.    Yet despite these inequalities, two thirds of ALL South Africans want to forget the past and move on!

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