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Fourth and last part of our dive into the daily life of a South African family to better understand the economic challenges of the country. The Khoza, a black family with modest incomes, live in Johannesburg, in the township of Soweto. Several generations live together in small dwellings built on the same land and help each other to manage a budget made even more meager with the Covid-19 crisis.
South Africa is often singled out for being one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of income, but also in terms of the distribution of wealth, despite promises of redistribution at the end of apartheid . And it is difficult for modest households to build a wealth. The cash flow barely covers current expenses.
Outside, religious songs resound in the street. But this Sunday morning, Sarah, 70, remained in one of the armchairs in the living room, her little heating on her feet. She looks around the room and often thinks about what to leave behind later. ” I have nothing to bequeath to the grandchildren. The money I have is just enough for me to live from day to day. I receive a pension of around a hundred euros. With that, I pay a contract every month – 20 euros – to ensure my funeral, because I don’t want my children to have any problems after I leave. At least they will have a roof; the house belongs to my husband’s family. She will therefore remain within the family Sarah says.
More than 25 years after the end of apartheid, inequalities are still very strong: 10% of the wealthiest households own more than 80% of the wealth.
Sarah’s daughter-in-law, Filipina, tried a time to put aside, at her level, but since losing her job she has had to use up her meager savings. ” Before, we had these savings plans and all that, but this year, nothing, we can no longer. Everyone says you have to save, save, but what can you save when you have no income? There are too many inequalities. If you are rich, your children will have a stable future. We are trying to save money and start a small business around the corner. But since we live on the little money we earn and we have to help the whole family with these few incomes, the business cannot grow. », She regrets.
It is not easy to save when many workers must also redistribute their earnings to help their less well-off relatives. This solidarity practice, nicknamed the “Black Tax”, allows everyone to survive, but sometimes it is a burden for young workers. 24-year-old Siphiwe’s main income is therefore not enough. ” I can’t just live with this job, it’s used to take care of the family, pay for transportation, etc. When we receive our salaries, there is a certain amount that we pool to buy provisions for everyone, because there are many of us in the house. So my salary goes quickly, then I have maybe about thirty euros. That’s why we need another job on the side. I started selling hats and perfumes, to create additional income », He explains.
While nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line, a tax on the richest incomes is not ruled out by the Ministry of Finance, as a solution to get out of the crisis.