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As the rich get even richer, the poor get even more resentful

The Times Editorial | 2012-09-18 00:12:38.0

The Times Editorial: A report on the wealthiest individuals on the planet had this to say - the really, really rich got richer.

Releasing its World Ultra Wealth Report yesterday, company Wealth-X reported that the world's number of billionaires increased by 9.4% to 2160 and their collective wealth grew 14% to $6.2-trillion.

"They certainly get the attention of every major bank," Mykolas Rambus, Wealth-X's CEO, said.

Here in Africa, individual wealth might not be as overwhelming as in North America and Europe, but the continent has 2535 ultra-high net worth individuals with a total net worth of $329-billion.

The report says the increase in the number of Africa's rich was largely influenced by growth in South Africa - the country with the most rich people.

"Wealth-X projects that South Africa's ultra-high net worth population will expand by an average of 6.2% over the next five years, driven by a surge in the property and equity markets. Total wealth is expected to grow 12.4% in the same period," Wealth-X's report says.

This should not come as a surprise, given the personal wealth depicted in the Sunday Times' Rich List, released at the weekend.

But, against the backdrop of vast inequality and mine workers striking for R12500 a month, the figures are nothing short of obscene.

According to the Rich List, Patrice Motsepe's wealth last year amounted to R20-billion; second-placed Christo Wiese had R5-billion less.

Obviously, a capitalist society such as South Africa will breed the super-wealthy Motsepes and Wieses.

But the vast discrepancies between our country's elite and the underclass are underscored by these wealth reports.

Should we really be shocked at the number of service-delivery protests and violent expressions of anger at what must appear to be an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor?

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