Anson Thom & Daily Mavericks (South Africa)  – disgraceful misuse of statistics..

Anso Thom - editor Daily Mavericks

On 8 Feb 2022 they published an article entitled:

What the hard data reveals about the true state of the nation (spoiler alert: not good at all)

This article goes over many features and data sets in the apparent attempt to appear detailed and objective. However, it assumes that most Africans are data ignorant and statistically uninformed. It exhibits a deliberate misuse of data. When painting a data picture of a country, the selective omission is a form of outrageous omission, particularly when the data set shows an aspect of the country where it leads the world.

We are talking about the GINI Index.

GINI

What is the GINI Index?

‘The Gini coefficient, also called the Gini index or Gini ratio, is the most commonly used measure of income distribution—simply put, the higher the Gini coefficient, the greater the gap between the incomes of a country’s richest and poorest people. A country’s Gini coefficient is important because it helps identify high levels of income inequality, which can have several undesirable political and economic impacts. These include slower GDP growth, reduced income mobility, greater household debt, political polarization, and higher poverty rates.’

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/gini-coefficient-by-country

South Africa has the worst ranking in income inequality in the world at 62.7 No one else comes close.

https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1171540/gini-index-by-country

https://data.oecd.org/inequality/income-inequality.htm

This is one data set that is missing. The gap between the rich and the poor is greater than anywhere else in the world. In South Africa, the top percentiles are mostly white. I wrote to the Editors earlier this year (be aware of time zone differences!) and  they responded:


Anso Thom <anso@dailymaverick.co.za>
Sun, 16 Jan, 13:56

to me, Letters

Dear Dapo

Thank you for taking the time to write to us. Our website is busy and I can understand if you miss some stories. I invite you to read Maverick Citizen one of our sections and specifically some of Mark Heywood’s editorials, which addresses these exact issues on a regular basis.

Take care, Anso

Anso Thom, Managing Editor

Maverick Citizen (Daily Maverick)

www.dailymaverick.co.za

+27-824667822

On Sun, Jan 16, 2022 at 2:48 PM Dapo Ladimeji

Dear Editor

I have read your news with interest over the years. I also note the high moral tone you adopt. Your columns are full of concern for the corrupt politicians. However one topic I never hear about (forgive me if I missed it) is that South Africa has the worst inequality in the world according to the Gini index. 

( https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/gini-coefficient-by-country

Nowhere do I see you holding the government to account for not taking firm action to reduce this. Nowhere do I see any expression of outrage that South Africa is leading the world in this area. Is this just a blindspot or proof of grand hypocrisy?

regards

Dapo Ladimeji’

Undaunted I followed this up:

 Dapo Ladimeji  Sun, 16 Jan, 14:25 
 to Anso, Letters 

Hi

I have Daily Maverick and did not notice Maverick Citizen. I have now looked for Heywood and found some articles  (which was not so easy). This is an important issue for me so I seek your assistance. I have only found (most likely due to my own inadequate search) articles by Heywood on poverty and the plight of the poor. That is a different issue than income inequality. It is possible to have a poor population with low-income inequality…two different issues. No doubt you can point me to some of his articles dealing with income inequality. We know that in US to top 1% have incomes 40x greater than 90% of the rest of the US population. SA is meant to be worse than this according to GINI.  Of course, I wanted to know if the income inequality is getting worse or better over the past decades. Perhaps Heywood has covered this. I am keen to be informed.

best wishes

Dapo’

Disappointingly, I have to date received no response.

While it is true that Maverick Citizen somewhere sports a link to the University of Wits Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, Daily Maverick’s report generally does not refer to this available data at all. This data shows that wealth inequality has not changed since the end of apartheid, that 0.1% own 25% of all wealth, that the top 10% own 85% of all wealth and more astonishing is that the bottom 50% (mostly Black) are net debtors (liabilities exceed their assets). This is after so many years from the end of apartheid. However, Daily Maverick does not think this tells us anything fundamental about South Africa.

However, it tells us a lot about South African journalism and its faux liberal protest about the economic conditions of the poor while keeping quiet about the primarily white rich. What sort of harmonious society can this give rise to?

Perhaps someone should tell the editor, Anso Thom, that contrary to her expectations Africans can read and follow statistical legerdemain.