Monday, May 26, 2008

Rising poverty and xenophobia

While all eyes are on the outpour of angry township dwellers in South Africa, another important report on the rise of poverty in South Africa was published by the South African Human Rights Commission.  The number of South African living in relative poverty is rising. This contradicts earlier statements made by the Presidency on poverty, and seem to be in line with claims made by the Institute of Race Relations on the doubling of poverty in a decade (see earlier blogpost).  See also Poverty data continues to make headlines for some thoughts on poverty and rising discontent.

Without a way to address this tinderbox of failed expectations and rising socio-economic hardship, any reason can and will be used to ignite an outpour of angryness, whether by deliberate forces trying to destabilise the country or out of sheer desperateness.  
The 12 million people on social grants may prove not to be a sufficient insurance policy. The relative deprivation of the largely excluded young adult and unemployed group will continue to be a major risk.  

It is less relevant who actually lights the match and much more relevant that South Africans face the reality that we have continuously failed to effectively pay attention to the tinderboxes in our midst.   

Time for immediate, high level and informed action.

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