The second Carnegie Report on poverty in South Africa is released

Tuesday, 24 April 1984

The Second Carnegie Report on poverty in South Africa, Uprooting poverty in South Africa: Report for the 2nd Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in South Africa, authored by Francis Wilson and Mamphela Ramphele, was released. The report highlighted the appalling conditions in the rural areas and townships of South Africa.

The first Carnegie inquiry into poverty in SA was published in 1932 and focused solely on the 'poor White' problem. This report gave rise to policy changes which over time, effectively eradicated poverty amongst Whites.

Fifty years later, most Black South Africans endured a level of poverty even more acute than that suffered by the Afrikaners. Commissioned in 1982, and published in 1984, this study was much broader and less conventional in its scope than its 1932 predecessor. Actively pursuing the 'understanding and participation of those communities that have to endure poverty', this study was as compassionate as it was comprehensive. It consulted almost 300 academics, political and social activists and humanities specialists, and brought together Black, Coloured, English-speaking and Afrikaans-speaking groups. They worked collaboratively in a manner that heralded the country's future and established a model for multi-racial inquiry and cooperation.

The level of poverty revealed by the report was devastating and extensive. In Ciskei, a Black 'homeland', the study found elderly people living in darkened hovels, sitting on ragged, filthy beds and with no food on their shelves. Malnutrition was common. In the Orange Free State province  800 residents of a Black township were forced to share 12 open-pit toilets, which led to an outbreak of infectious diseases.

The inquiry's formal report was launched at a week long national conference held at the University of Cape Town in April 1984. Rich in personal testimony, the final report addressed the history of conquest, slavery and political repression that bound Black people throughout the region, as well as the countless day-to-day indignities and struggles faced by men, women and children for whom poverty was a generational inheritance.

Despite a hostile reception by the ruling National Party, the findings of the report were disseminated widely throughout the South African press and internationally.

• Nelson Mandela Foundation,"24 April 1984",From:Nelson Mandela Foundation,[Online], Available at:,[Accessed on: 23 April 2014]
• Kalley, J.A.; Schoeman, E. & Andor, L.E. (eds)(1999). Southern African Political History: a chronology of key political events from independence to mid-1997 , Westport: Greenwood.

Last updated : 24-Apr-2014

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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