Desmond Tutu calls for wealth tax on white South Africans


ANTI-APARTHEID hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for a wealth tax to be imposed on white South Africans to help tackle the country’s grinding poverty and support reconciliation among its racial groups.

In an opinion piece published in a local newspaper yesterday, Mr Tutu said such an anti-poverty fund would be a “magnificent gesture” amid the global recession, which was contributing to a widening wealth gap in South Africa.

“Imagine if a group of eminent South African bankers and business people came together with a plan for the administration of a national wealth fund – to be managed by captains of industry, not government,” he wrote.

He added: “The value of the exercise extends way beyond the physical exchange of cash; it is a gesture in restoration and reconciliation; a vehicle to assuage pent-up guilt, to share, to show that we care; an opportunity to lay another brick in our road to a better society.”

He went on to say that white South Africans had failed to acknowledge the magnanimity of the country’s blacks since the end of apartheid.

The former archbishop of Cape Town’s call for white South Africans to help raise the poor majority’s living standards was the second such statement he has made on the subject over the past two weeks.

He mooted the idea of a “white tax” at a book launch in Cape Town earlier this month.

Mr Tutu’s latest utterances on the idea have caused widespread debate locally, and a number of prominent white South Africans have said they would support such a fund.

Constitutional court law expert Pierre de Vos supported the idea in his “Constitutionally Speaking” blog last Monday.

“Not only is a wealth tax on white South Africans who earn a minimum amount of money constitutionally valid,” Mr de Vos wrote. “It is also an important and welcome idea that must be supported by all right-thinking South Africans with even a smidgen of a conscience or common sense.”

The wealth tax could be paid on a percentage of income to be collected by an independent statutory body or a voluntary fund.