Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

mandela statue

I won’t attempt to add to the list of superlatives that have been attached to the life and work of Nelson Mandela, who is today being appropriately recognized and celebrated—except to note that many of those grand adjectives and phrases are being issued by representatives of countries that once branded him a terrorist and of universities, corporations, and other entities that for many years refused to support the anti-apartheid movement.

We also need to remember that South Africa was—and remains, 19 years after the end of apartheid—one of the world’s most unequal societies. According to a very careful study conducted by South African economist and former student Murray Leibbrandt (with Ingrid Woolard, Arden Finn, Jonathan Argent),

184. . . .the long-run development trajectory in South Africa has been one that has generated a very high-inequality society with a strong racial component to this inequality. The bottom half of the income distribution was reserved for black South Africans and, at any of a wide range of poverty lines, poverty was dominated by black South Africans. Historically this was the result of active racial privileging and discrimination in state policy. Even without the direct racial interventions in the labour market such as the reservation of jobs that took place under Apartheid, the racial biases in determining where people were allowed to live and in the education, health and social services policy matrix would have created a workforce with racially skewed human capital and spatial characteristics. Such spatial and human capital legacies leave a very long-run footprint and these processes are hard to reverse. They should not have been expected to disappear at the dawning of democratic government in South Africa. . .these factors have continued to exert an influence on South Africa’s development path. It is not just the case that the 15 years since the democratic transition is not enough time for these factors to work their ways out of South African society: it is a much more dynamic and daunting process than this.

185. While we observe a decline in the importance of between-race inequality, within-race inequality has risen sharply and this has been strong enough to stop South Africa’s aggregate inequality from falling. It should be noted that while the between-race component of inequality has fallen, it remains remarkably high by international norms and its decline has slowed since the mid 1990s. Moreover, the bottom deciles of the income distribution and the poverty profile are still dominated by Africans and racial income shares are far from proportionate with population shares. Nonetheless, South Africa’s changing population shares imply that a policy focus on race-based redistribution will become increasingly limited in the future as the foundation for further broad-based social development.


Thousands of miners remained on strike at two shafts in South Africa’s Marikana platinum mine on Tuesday, operator Lonmin Plc said, revising an earlier statement that they had gone back to work.

Disruptions at Marikana are particularly closely watched as it was the site where 34 striking miners were shot dead by police last August in South Africa’s deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Workers affiliated to the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) refused to go underground on Tuesday, demanding the closure of the offices of a rival union, said the mining group. . .

Glaring income disparities and grinding poverty in the shantytowns around the platinum mines have also fueled the violence.


According to Alex Duval Smith [ht: gh],

Unions and charities supporting the Western Cape’s 500,000 farm workers say pay and working conditions are so bad that South African wines, table grapes and granny smith apples should be as unacceptable to responsible British consumers as they were under apartheid. “The government should be forcing the farmers to the table but it is not,” said Nosey Pieterse, secretary general of the black agricultural sector union, Bawusa. “Our only weapon left is for the foreign buyers to pledge that unless the conditions are addressed, they will no longer import South African products.”. . .

Pieterse said the farm owners, not workers, had benefited from the ending of apartheid. “In the first 10 years of democracy, the wine industry grew tenfold, from 20m litres’ output before 1994 to 220m litres. The farm workers’ conditions went the other way. Tenure rights laws were not accepted by the farmers. More than 1 million farm workers were evicted. They remain slaves on the land of their birth.”


Longshoremen Contract pb-121114-south-africa-protest-nj-04-photoblog900

Actually, a follow-up to two different protests of the day. . .

Port operators along the East Coast have reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the union for longshoremen, averting a possible strike that would have crippled operations at 15 ports.

South Africa has increased the basic daily wage of farm workers by 52 percent following a strike in the wine-producing Western Cape region.

Farmworkers [ht: sn] in the Western Cape have been engaged in a week-long strike, demanding higher wages. The South African police have killed one of the striking workers and wounded at least five others.

The “Long Wait,” by Faith47:

miners are waiting for justice. workers are waiting for a living wage.
people are waiting for service delivery. refugees are waiting for assistance.
men are waiting for jobs. we are all waiting for an honest politician.
so many people are waiting for others to do things first. to take the blame.
to do things for them. to take the fall. to build the country. to admit defeat.
there has been so much waiting in this country that much time has been lost.

AngloGold Ashanti said it will sack 12,000 South African wildcat strikers who ignored a deadline to return to work today.

AngloGold rival Harmony Gold has also given wildcat strikers an ultimatum to return to work on Thursday.

Anglogold is the latest case where the hardball tactic has failed to get substantial numbers of strikers back to work.

Gold Fields, the world’s fourth-largest bullion producer, sacked 8,500 wildcat strikers at its KDC East mine on Tuesday after they ignored an ultimatum. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s largest platinum producer, also sacked 12,000 at its Rustenburg operations earlier this month.

Anglo American said last week that it would now be delaying the dismissal process at its Union and Amandelbult operations, where it employs 20,500 people. It also said it was open to discussing the reinstatement of the sacked workers with unions.

Lockout of the day

Posted: 8 October 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Anglo American Platinum [ht: sm] fired 12,000 workers who refused to return to work on Friday, apparently an attempt by the company to stem the tide of wildcat strikes that have shaken South Africa’s mining industry.

Workers’ strikes continue to expand across the South African economy, especially in the mining and transport sectors.

We now live in the age of inequality porn.

Apparently, the lives of the über-rich are illustrated in Chrystia Freeland’s new book, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

In Freeland’s telling, one crucial factor distinguishes today’s uber-rich from their forebears: They carry a striking sense of entitlement, seeing themselves as people who have constructed their own fortunes, as opposed to aristocrats who inherited their affluence. Freeland calls them the “working rich,” and she makes clear that this is indeed how they see themselves. Given their self conceptions as rugged individualists whose wealth reflects not the accident of birth but their own pluck and savvy, they are of little mind to share their rightful winnings with anyone else — especially not with losers who failed to erect their own fortunes, or government bureaucrats sustained by taxing other people’s loot.

On the other end, we can participate in “slum tourism.”

What is it about the slums that attracts hordes of tourists each year?

Dr Malte Steinbrink at the University of Osnabruck in Germany, says: “We are currently witnessing a tremendous growth in slum tourism worldwide, especially in the global south.”

He notes that the trend started in Victorian London over 150 years ago, when people from the London upper class were curious to see what happened in the East End.

In the global south it is a quite recent phenomenon – starting at the beginning of the 1990s in South Africa after the end of apartheid, when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

“Tourists came to South Africa and wanted to see the townships and places of the apartheid repression and Mandela’s house – so it began as a niche tourism for tourists with a special political interest,” says Dr Steinbrink.

If we’re going to spend our time looking at all this softcore porn stemming from growing inequality, it’s about time we asked for explicit portrayals of how the über-rich are screwing the poor and everyone else.