Saturday, September 26, 2009

South Africa - Inequality grows

South Africa remains the world's most unequal society, a report said

Development Indicators report showed that the income of South Africa's poorest 10 percent rose by a third from 783 rand (105 US dollars, 71 euros) in 1993 to 1,041 rand a month in 2008.The richest 10 percent got richer by nearly 38 percent over the same period.

Figures also show that while black South Africans' salaries increased by 38 percent, the incomes of white South Africans jumped by 83.5 percent between 1995 and 2008.

While other countries may occasionally come in below South Africa in inequality indices, as a nation with regular and reliable data it was "now singularly the most consistently unequal society in the world."

The report noted concerns about increasing mortality due to HIV/AIDS. Health expert David Saunders of the University of the Western Cape said South Africa was one of only five countries where under-five mortality was increasing.

In 1995, 31 percent of the population lived under the poverty line of 283 rand a month, which dropped to 22 percent in 2008.

Socialist Banner is reminded of what Marx said " A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Riches thru the labour of others

Socialist Banner has said it , now COSATU says it .

"the black bourgeoisie benefits on the sweat of workers through BEE companies."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Criminal Capitalism

A British oil trading giant has agreed to a multimillion-pound payout to settle a huge damages claim from thousands of Africans who fell ill from tonnes of toxic waste dumped illegally in one of the worst pollution incidents in decades.
Trafigura, a London-based company which bills itself as one of the world's largest oil traders, said it was in talks to reach a "global settlement" to the claim by 30,000 people from Ivory Coast, who brought Britain's largest-ever lawsuit after contaminated sludge from a tanker ship was fly-tipped under cover of darkness in August 2006.
The incident caused at least 100,000 residents from the west African country's most populous city, Abidjan, to flood into hospitals and clinics complaining of breathing difficulties and sickness. Investigations by the Ivorian authorities suggested that the deaths of at least 10 people were linked to the waste.

Trafigura struck a series of bargains on the international markets in 2005 and early 2006 to buy cheap and dirty petroleum, called coker gasoline, which the company believed could then be cleaned up at profit of £4m per cargo.Rather than send the oil to a refinery, Trafigura used the Probo Koala, a Panamanian tanker chartered by the company since 2004, as a floating processing plant while it was anchored off Gibraltar. "This is as cheap as anyone can imagine and should make serious dollars."
Using an ad hoc process of adding caustic soda and a catalyst to the coker gasoline, the oil was "cleaned" to produce a sellable fuel and a toxic sludge which sank to the bottom of the ship's tanks. "This operation is no longer allowed in the European Union, the United States and Singapore" it is "banned in most countries due to the 'hazardous nature of the waste'", one e-mail warns.

Problems began for Trafigura when it needed to dispose of the slurry. When the Probo Koala arrived in Amsterdam in July 2006 and tried to unload the contaminated slops, allegedly described as "watery cleaning liquids", the process caused a health alert and Trafigura was informed the cost of dealing with its by-product would rise from £17 per cubic metre to £80.Rather than pay the estimated bill of £500,000, Trafigura ordered the waste to be pumped back on to the Probo Koala and the vessel travelled to west Africa where in Ivory Coast fleet of 12 trucks hired by a local waste contractor, Compagnie Tommy, which had only received its operating licence weeks earlier, offloaded the sulphurous sludge from the cargo vessel and deposited the waste at 18 locations around Abidjan .

A United Nations report found that "there seems to be strong prima facie evidence that the reported deaths and adverse health consequences are related to the dumping".

Trafigura repeatedly deployed one of Britain's most aggressive firms of lawyers to dispute reporting on the case by media outlets including the BBC. Trafigura, a privately-owned multinational last year claimed a turnover of $73bn (£44bn). The figure is double the entire GDP of Ivory Coast, where half the population of 21 million live on less than a dollar a day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

nigerian shakara

Most of Nigeria's 150 million citizens may live in desperate poverty, but the West African oil giant also has an elite that revels in "shakara" — the flaunting of success.

"Nigerians who have money like to splash it,"
explains Naomi Okaja, whose company imports goods into Lagos, the commercial capital.
At the Megaplaza mall, a flat-screen TV taller than a man sells for $53,000, a crystal chandelier for $10,000. The wealthy import everything from refined gasoline for their Mercedes-Benzes to their children's favorite foods.
Restaurants post armed guards; the homes of the wealthy have walls with razor-wire, floodlights, cameras and security guards. Newspaper ads for luxury armored Hummers.An island and the connecting peninsula jutting into Lagos Lagoon offer the best real-estate. At night the rich neighborhoods become the ultimate gated communities, reachable only by bridges and checkpoints guarded by police with rifles. There are yacht moorings and helipads for the super-rich.

Meanwhile, four-fifths of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day.

The rich at Megaplaza think, a growing middle class will push for better governance and a better government will provide better services.

For Okuro and other stall holders around him, such visions provoke bitter laughter.

"When will it come? Tell me when," Okuro demands "We are tired of waiting."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A good use of money ?

Officials in Cameroon have defended President Paul Biya's controversial holiday in La Baule, southern France.

He is alleged to be spending $40,000 (£24,500) a day on 43 hotel rooms. The average annual income in the West African country is $1,000.

Cameroon's communications minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary told the BBC :-
"Isn't he free to make a good use of his money?"