President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa angrily denied claims the rate of poverty in his nation was on the rise. He blasted forces that oppose the democratic revolution which overthrew apartheid as the source of such claims since they are attempting to subvert the success of black rule. “This time,” he said, the source of the canard was the South African Institute of Race Relations which made the startling claim that the masses of poor people are now poorer than they were in 1996.” However, the South African Institute of Race Relations(SAIRR) stood by its report which indicates significant growth in the percentage of people falling below the poverty line. It noted the number of people living below a $1 a day wage had risen from 1.9 million in 1996 to 4.2 million in 2006. The Institute report agreed with Mbeki that overall income had been on the rise but a disproportionate amount of that went to people at the upper levels of income.
The South African situation is not that much different than in America where over the past few years, poor people and those at the bottom level of the middle class have fallen behind while those in upper levels are garnering a much higher proportion of the overall societal wealth.