Opinion / 26 March 2013, 11:42am / SAYED IQBAL MOHAMED
We extend a warm African welcome to the rapidly expanding economic giants meeting in Durban.
As Brics will evaluate their achievements against their previously agreed measurable goals, will they celebrate reduced homelessness, unemployment and poverty?
Will they showcase their outstanding records in having eradicated misogyny, the abuse of women and child labour; reduced crime and improved democratic values?
As they stand together, can the heads of state boast of success against corruption, nepotism and how swiftly and powerfully they respond to people’s frustrations and anger?
One third of the world’s poor live in India: 78 million people are homeless and the number living in slums is estimated at 63 million, about the size of the British population.
Several generations of homeless families are not unique to India. In China, the “cardboard” families have lived through several generations sleeping in boxes in and around train stations.
China’s regulations forbid the destitute and the indigent from living in shelters for the homeless for more than 10 days.
Some prefer sleeping in the streets in freezing temperatures, according to a TV report in January, since such short-term accommodation is not a solution.
Russia’s homeless population is estimated to be up to 4 million, with 1 million homeless children.
Brazil has 16.27 million people living in absolute poverty and India will continue to have the largest share of the world’s poor.
Will economic growth reduce poverty for those barely surviving?
How will Brics help the poor in South Africa, which has one of the highest levels of income inequality?
Brazil has a population of 20 million homeless living in favelas, hovels, under bridges and viaducts and in shacks. Nevertheless, it appears to have made great strides in reducing poverty by half within the last 10 years, and can use its own experience for the Brics development bank.
Herein lies the challenge: the bank, with reformed socio-economic and political policies, must serve the people and not the elites.
Will President Jacob Zuma present our country’s plan to eradicate the housing crisis, improve the living conditions of the poor, stop corruption and boot out corrupt officials and politicians?
Durban’s homeless community, the shack dwellers and the many other poor women, men and children, will continue worrying about how to survive the next day. Each day, the poor take to their “beds” their concern, anxiety and fear, with little hope for change.
* Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed, Chairman, Organisation of Civic Rights.
For tenants’ rights advice, contact Loshni Naidoo or Pretty Gumede at 031 304 6451