x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Winds of change in South Africa

A reader says the shooting of striking miners is symptomatic of broader problems in the rainbow nation. Other letter topics: street racing, maids' work conditions and Indian politics.

A reader says the strike and violence in Rustenburg is symptomatic of a sick South Africa. Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A reader says the strike and violence in Rustenburg is symptomatic of a sick South Africa. Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

Winds of change are blowing again in South Africa

As usual, your columnist Tony Karon hits the nail on the head in Mine violence shows lessons of apartheid still unheeded (August 22).

However, I feel he misses out on an important nuance that further bedevils and, concomitantly, lends hope to the dire situation here in South Africa.

While economic empowerment has been restricted to our elites, we have joined the neoliberal world in the sense that accelerating inequity now knows no race boundaries.

Whites may be over-represented among the increasingly wealthy elite (raising the median income of that group), but those not of that elite are in as much trouble as anybody else. In fact, they're now at the back of a mighty long queue.

Socially, therefore, South Africa is nearing a point where a demographically representative mass movement will take its discontent to the corridors of power, be they in the boardroom or the union buildings.

Two small quibbles: first, rock-drill operators, generally the least educated of our miners, earn 4,000 rand (Dh1,778) a month at Lonmin yet constitute the small body of workers most likely to be injured or killed under disastrous circumstances. (Globally, mineworkers are criminally underpaid.)

Their demand for a near-tripling of their wages in a crisis economy is therefore not unreasonable.

Secondly, a Ferrari - rather than a Maserati - showroom defines Cape Town's "obscenely conspicuous realm of consumption" - an appropriate and delicious choice of words.

M Golby, South Africa

Maids deserve fair conditions

Regarding the letter Runaway maids not all abused (August 22), what exactly are "good working conditions" for maids?

If the conditions were good, many more people from many different nationalities would be working as maids.

Does a 40-hour working week, with a maximum of 60 hours, with two days off and at least Dh2,000 per month sound right? Let's not forget national holidays off, and at least two weeks of annual holidays.

Perhaps when proper working conditions are available, then the runaways would not be an issue.Many people look to move to other jobs for higher wages and better working conditions. What is good for one is good for others.

M Carr, Dubai

There are always two sides to any situation involving two parties.

Some maids may not perform well despite being compensated at the high end for maids' wages. However, other maids are overworked and paid poverty wages that are shocking giving the average per capita income in the UAE.

Regarding the Ramadan holiday, we chose to follow the private-sector holiday schedule and gave our maid time off to spend with her family.

She works extremely hard during her working hours and we reward her appropriately.

I hope that householders who required their maids to work extended hours during Ramadan and Eid compensated them appropriately.

Timothy Strother, Abu Dhabi

How to tackle a tanning addiction

I think I know how to "cure" the young woman who is addicted to tanning beds (Eva's story: confessions of a UV addict, August 21).

She should just open her eyes and look around at the many middle-aged and old people whose leathery skin is testament to youths spent sunbathing.

Or maybe a trip to the oncology ward at a hospital would be better for her. A word with some skin cancer patients might be instructive. Mary Morris, Dubai


Clarity needed on car modifications

In reference to Undercover war on illegal racing (August 21), it's important to find out what is covered under the definition of "car modification".

Are there any minor modifications that don't require authorisation? And what is the process of obtaining authorisation? Hassan Siddiqi, Dubai

It's not modified cars that are encouraging reckless driving. The trend of blaming garages for the modifications should stop and the drivers should be blamed.

If there were specific regulations for modification garages to follow, there would be far fewer issues and disasters could be avoided.

Banning modifications will only make things worse.

Rogeh Roj, Dubai

Time for Indian PM to step aside

Regarding Indian PM hauled over the Coals (August 22), allegations of scams and corruption among the Indian government are coming up too often.

Manmohan Singh, once known for his integrity, knowledge and, above all, his economic talents, should step aside while these claims are investigated. K Ragavan, India