How can SA redress the stark divide between rich and poor?

As stats released this week reveal that South Africa remains one of world's most unequal countries, the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says more needs to be done to eliminate the concentration of wealth from the top 1% of the population.

According to the latest report from the commission, 64% of black South Africans are living in poverty compared to 41% of coloured people, 6% of Indian people and just 1% of white people.

We know that wealth creates more wealth. So until we start concentrating, in parallel, in trying to eliminate poverty and also on this concentration of wealth at the top 10 or 1% of the population, nothing is going to change.

Shanelle van der Berg, Senior Researcher at the South African Human Rights Commission

READ: April retail sales shock economists, as VAT hike bites harder than expected

The main failure is that there is a misalignment between the legislation and policy at the government's disposal and constitutional obligations.

Shanelle van der Berg, Senior Researcher at the South African Human Rights Commission

The commission says the increase in value-added tax (VAT) is a threat to various human rights and a burden to be carried by the poor.

ALSO READ: **How to respond to the VAT hike (and capitalise on the rising cost of everything)**

It's going to impact the poorest people in the society the most. If the government had considered the zero basket of exempted goods beforehand and also increase the social protection system more it might have been acceptable.

Shanelle van der Berg, Senior Researcher at the South African Human Rights Commission

Grants are only increased by up to a R100 and we've got a social protection gap in our country where able-bodied adults who don't have caregiver responsibilities aren't eligible for social grants, so there is nothing mitigating the impact of this VAT increase and that renders it constitutionally suspect.

Shanelle van der Berg, Senior Researcher at the South African Human Rights Commission

Listen to the full interview below...


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