Twenty years after the end of apartheid South Africa is a different place. It has a well institutionalized democracy. Significant gains have been made in social equity and in reducing extreme poverty. Yet poverty, unemployment and inequality remain South Africa’s most pressing problems. Social change and enhanced access to rights have not translated into comparable economic shifts – unemployment has risen and inequality remains extreme.The paper starts with a brief review of the literature to explore the main trajectories through which inequality impacts on economic development and growth. This includes consideration of the crucial roles of public policy and institutions, as well as the roles of asset inequality, income inequality, and inequality in access to opportunities.The paper then attempts to grapple with the multi-dimensional nature of inequality in South Africa and how social and economic inequality impact on the scope for economic development.