Saturday, April 19, 2008

Poverty knows no colour

"The problem of white poverty is a silent problem..." Flip Buys, general secretary of Solidarity said "...but it's not politically correct to talk about white poverty. We must break the silence, because poverty knows no color."

About 9 percent of South Africa's 48 million people are white. Solidarity, a union whose base is among white workers, estimates about 13 percent of working-class whites — some 247,000 people — earn less than 1,600 rand (about $200) a month.

Bethlehem , a collection of wooden shacks on the outskirts of the capital , has no electricity, running water or sewer service, and the people there eke out a meager living by selling vegetables they grow near their shacks.Such squalor was common for blacks under apartheid, and the vast majority of South African blacks still struggle to get by. But, while it is rarely discussed, white poverty is not new — Zuma told the Bethlehem residents he knew poor whites growing up in a working-class family in Durban.

Jackie Nel, a 53-year-old former government clerk who has been living in the settlement for a year, said there isn't any difference between black and white poverty.
"The whole of South Africa is struggling. The prices of food, petrol, kerosene are too high. Can't they (government officials) bring them down a little?" Nel , said.
Susie van Niekerk, a 73-year-old retired nurse who uses a wheelchair and has been living in Bethlehem since September, said she sometimes feels the plight of whites is ignored. But, she said, the government needs to do more "not only for white people, but for black people, too."

1 comment:

Borges said...

Excellent reminder that the working class knows no racial boundaries and neither does poverty. The bosses and capitalists are the enemy, whatever their colour!