“It’s shocking to know that in South Africa there are people who earn R4000 a month, while there are others earning R250 000,” said Deprose Muchena at the launch of his book Tearing Us Apart: Inequalities in Southern Africa last night.
Muchena made reference to the recent Marikana massacre in the North West as an example for the central argument in his latest work.
“If we don’t deal with the massive inequalities in Southern Africa we will see an uprising of the poor,” he said.
“We see a tremendous amount of wealth in many parts of Southern Africa,” explained Muchena. “In Harare there are even houses with lifts to take you to your bedroom. Not very far from these houses, there are people living without basic human rights like water and sanitation,” he continued.
The book offers a comprehensive study of poverty and the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland.
“The aim of this book is to look at these massive contradictions and propose viable solutions,” said Muchena.
Some of these solutions include moving away from the Washington consensus and working on new development strategies; constructing a democratic state; dealing with gender inequality and using science and technology education to reduce inequalities
“We need to get to a point where education is not seen as just a ‘nice-to-have’ but as a vehicle for citizenship.”
Muchena also emphasized some of the difficulties that come with dealing with poverty in Southern Africa. “Namibia has taken five years just to define poverty… There is a lot of work to be done.”
Asked on why the book was handed out for free at the launch, Muchena answered: “I’m not a writer, I’m an activist- I don’t believe in selling knowledge.”