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Focus on Africa: 27 November 2018

Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration.
Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

South Africa looks to introduce a new minimum wage of €223 per month,   while Nigeria's €75 per month proposal is blocked by state governors to press demands for increased budget subsidies.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a new wage bill aimed at tackling salary inequality in Africa’s most industrialized economy.

The National Minimum Wage Act sets South Africa’s smallest paycheck at 20 rand an hour, making it 3,500 rand or €223 per month.

Karima Brown is the award-winning former political editor of BusinessDay newspaper and now chief content officer at Independent Media Group in Johannesburg.

She told RFI that the new minimum wage was one of the most important developments in the South African economy and a tint to try to deal with economic exclusion.

The end of ‘slave wages’

She dismissed the argument by critics that the reform could lead to increased unemployment already at record highs of 26 percent in the first quarter of 2018, up from 21.50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to official statistics.

According to Brown, the argument reflected the mindset of people who want the wage structure to be based on super exploitation.

The former BusinessDay editor recalls that South African capitalism was completely irrational as it was based on a racial hierarchy, which allowed it, pay black workers with virtually nothing. She claims that the minimum wage rise will lift more than 2 million workers out of the "slave wages" that they earn – R13 per hour.

Kobos for Nigeria's poorest workers

Meanwhile, in Nigeria and according to Nigeria’s Guardian newspapers, a Nigerian worker would be earning less than a quarter of what the South African takes home monthly.

The South African reform fell on Nigerians as "a splash of cold water on the face on a chilly morning", according to the publication.

The Guardian argues that while South African workers would be making N527 naira per hour, 4216 naira per day and 126, 480 naira per month, their Nigerian counterparts would continue earning 1000 naira per day and just 18,000 naira a month. The wages are short of the N30, 000 (€72) deal agreed on by the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee.

NLC running out of patience

ThisDay addresses the frustrations expressed by the Nigerian Labour Congress over President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in sending the bill to the National Assembly.

President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, reportedly described as unfortunate the position of some governors who are opposed to the reform, “but spending billions of Naira in the name of security votes which they can’t account for”.

Black Friday regrets?

And here is some food for thought culled from the Editor’s note in today’s South African Star. It’s addressed to the thousands of spend thrifts who went on the hunt for discounts on Black Friday.

According to Sol Makgabutlane, “woe betide credit card owners who ran amok on the day, filling their closets with lizard skin shoes”. As he puts it: “If you overspent or got duped – ish as the reckoning for your sins will last for months.”

For the record, South Africans are known to have spent a whopping €159 million on Black Friday. One of the country’s leading banks admitted to the Star that it cleared 4.7 million card transactions in 2017, representing more than double the national daily average.


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