Yacoob was concerned that the high levels of poverty in South Africa have not led to more discourse on the subject.
We share his concern. Poverty is something a lot of us manage to avoid confronting completely. It only manages an unwelcome intrusion when the robot stays red long enough for the beggar to make it to the car window.
It’s understandable that this topic is avoided – it’s not very pleasant, and there are no easy solutions, no simple platitudes that can be mouthed to magically make everything better.
But there is no bigger threat to our democracy and economy than this one; so even those not driven by any concern for the lot of their fellow human beings should have enough selfish reasons to engage with the issue.
Those who wonder why populist movements such as the Economic Freedom Fighters are gaining more and more support every day need look no further than the poverty and the lack of any realistic hope of escaping it experienced by so many citizens.
Have the bigger political parties really done enough to address the issue? What about big business?
Yacoob speaks in an apocalyptic tone: “Unless we reach a situation where all of us agree on a particular minimum level of humanity and a particular threshold at [which] people would be able to live, and unless we commit ourselves to that, we will be doomed to disaster.”
That may sound melodramatic, but it’s hard to find any good arguments to prove the contrary.