JOHANNESBURG – Clinical psychologist Mthetho Tshemese has put his doctorate on hold because he is paying the ‘black tax’.
He says he supports 13 family members and simply cannot afford to further his education, for now.
Like many black South Africans with good jobs, or formal employment, Tshemese spends a significant portion of his income subsidising relatives, and he is not alone.
“There’s an expectation that we’ve invested in you and you’ve got to support us,” explains Tshemese.
“The reality is that there’s nothing wrong with supporting ones parents. However when it becomes that ‘we’ve helped you get to where you are,’ it becomes such an arrested development for people.”
In a Workers’ Day special for eNCA’s financial show, Moneyline, reporter Thabang Masanabo met a few people paying the same price.
She hears how researcher Pinky Netshivhambe provides for her unemployed parents, in addition to raising two children.
Each month, Netshivihambe spends around 10% of her income on supporting her parents. This limits her disposable income for other goods.
“You feel guilty that you see that the situation is difficult, so you want to help them,” says the researcher. “But it’s also strenuous on you because you also have to take care of yourself.’
Similarly, Tshepo Kganaga shares his salary with his family. He is renovating his mother’s kitchen, paying university fees for his sister and buying family groceries.
It’s a role he has filled for 15 years, since his father died.
“You have to go back and try and fix things that went wrong, there’s a family to take care of and family responsibilities and afterwards you have to focus on yourself,” he says.