26 October 2022
- The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Western Cape Province, representing workers and the poor from across the province, is here today to deliver a memorandum of demands, on the day of the tabling of the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTPBPS) by the Minister of Finance, Mr Enoch Godongwana. The memorandum is directed to the Minister.
- Since our 1994 democratic breakthrough, the workers and poor of this country have been at the receiving-end of the neo-liberal measures first adopted without democratic consultation and imposed as “non-negotiable” and “cast in stone” by the government in 1996 under the economic policy called Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR). By the end of 1996, the year in which the government imposed the neo-liberal policy, unemployment skyrocketed, rising from its lowest in our democratic dispensation, but which was a whopping 16,5 per cent in 1995, to crisis high levels of above 20 per cent. Unemployment worsened above 20 per cent by the narrow definition, not to mention the higher expanded definition that includes discouraged work-seekers. There can be no doubt this policy failure resulted from the neo-liberal measures institutionalised in our sovereign policy space under GEAR and more that were added later, as well as their toxic interaction with the persisting legacy of colonialism and apartheid and the endemic crisis of the capitalist mode of production.
- In the same way, poverty and inequality persisted at high rates, which, together with unemployment, worsened further under the global COVID-19 crisis, itself not unrelated to the expansion of patterns of the capitalist mode of production into new fields, disrupting nature and unleashing zoonotic diseases, among others.
- The imposition of GEAR in 1996 (the 1996 GEAR class project) maintained the paradigm of premature de-industrialisation which started in the 1980s, not only failing to overcome growing high levels of inequality and poverty but also to industrialise our economy to create employment at scale to bring down unemployment. The 1996 class project continued what the apartheid regime did when it started domesticating in the 1970s the neo-liberal policy paradigm known worldwide to be imposed on Global South countries by among others the institutions hegemonised by former colonial powers and imperialist forces, agencies and agents.
- GEAR saw massive retrenchments as the premature de-industrialisation continued, shrinking the contribution of manufacturing to national output and employment.
- More recently workers and the poor have been forced to shoulder the burden of almost ten years of state capture corruption, governance decay and mismanagement of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and the pillaging of state resources meant for the people. Neo-liberalism paved the way for the rot, through privatisation and tenderisation, while it continued to cause distress in working-class and poor families through austerity, code-named “fiscal consolidation”.
- Today, 26 October 2022, on the day that the Finance Minister is tabling the MTBPS, 75 per cent of our country’s youth are sitting at home without hope of a productive future. Approximately 44 per cent of our working age population cannot make a living to feed their families, clothe their children, pay for school fees or transport. Neo-liberal policy failures have engendered and are now sustaining this crisis of social reproduction. Due to the crisis, families cannot afford to support life itself. Households now have to choose skipping a meal so that there can be something on the table for dinner.
- Our current economic trajectory is being heavily influenced by global capitalist financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, credit rating agencies, foreign finance capital and their domestic “stuur-boys”. This must change.
The SACP in the Western Cape Province advancing the programme of the SACP and the working-class and peasants presents the following:
- We call for an end to austerity, the budget cuts and so-called “fiscal anchors” that affect economic and social development priorities and the workers and poor.
- We call for the prioritisation of resources for the National Health Insurance to ensure quality healthcare for all.
- Improve support for Early Childhood Development centres to nurture the future of our country.
- We call on the Minister of Finance to cease curtailing public servant wages and undermining collective-bargaining and signed bargaining agreements. The government must protect the right of public servants to earn a living wage instead of attacking the value of the wages of public servants as evident in the decision to renege from implementing Public Sector Co-Ordinating Bargaining Council Resolution 1 of 2018.
- We call on the government to stop the agenda to privatise our SOEs. The government must instead lead a turnaround of the SOEs and build a vibrant and thriving public owned economy to take care of the needs of the people, the majority of whom are the propertyless working-class. This must include ridding the South African Post Office, DENEL, the SABC, Petro-SA, and other public entities of abuses and intolerance towards workers and to put an end to the rot of corruption and ineptitude.
- We call on the Minister of Finance to prioritise the funding to implement a universal basic income grant towards a comprehensive social security for all. The government must not terminate the Social Relief of Distress Grant at the end of March 2023 but must maintain and improve it as a step towards the universal basic income grant.
- The government must tax the rich through, among others, a more progressive income tax, corporate tax, a wealth tax, and an inheritance tax. The government must decisively deal with and end tax evasion by the rich, and tightly regulate the capital account, cross-border capital transactions, to protect our economy and stop illicit capital flows.
- We demand a comprehensive plan to turn around failing municipalities. Municipal infrastructure has broken-down as a result of the tenderisation and associated procurement corruption. A number of municipal workers are left without a pay cheque at month-end while our communities are sinking deeper into poverty and inequality. We demand in-sourcing of outsourced and tenderised functions and operations not only in municipalities but also in upper spheres of the government and the state at large.
- We demand that the government must prioritise rebuilding Prasa and Transnet and the rail network and expanding it to new areas in pursuit of an affordable, reliable, safe and integrated public transport system.
- In the Western Cape, our passenger rail system has been devastated by organised criminal elements, wielding AK47s on one of the main transport routes, or in boardrooms co-ordinating copper theft syndicates. The ineptitude at a management level and the billions of rands stolen from these entities have seen working-class families living on the margin, having to use the little they have for expensive private sector transport.
- We are calling for a windfall tax on extractive industries to fund our drive towards manufacturing economic activities. We further demand that the government must prioritise state-led infrastructure investment, including new energy generation capacity, as a critical component of re-industrialisation and energy security to build an economy that will take care of the material needs of the people.
- We demand changes in monetary and fiscal policies to support structural transformation (NB: not the neo-liberal structural reforms) and industrialisation as an immediate priority. The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition must develop a high impact, comprehensive industrial policy and review international trade policy to prioritise domestic production development, manufacturing and industrialisation.
- The Government must stop paying lip-service to supporting co-operatives, as well as youth- and women-owned small, micro and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), and provide meaningful investment support to build a thriving worker- and community-owned co-operatives sector and youth- and women-owned SMMEs with greater attention paid to redress and undo racial inequalities.
- The government must stop mortgaging South Africa and compromising our economic policy sovereignty through dollar denominated loans from imperialist controlled institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. The loans from the imperialist controlled institutions pose more risks through foreign exchange inequalities that may result in more money being owed, for instance, due to currency depreciation dynamics in the dog-eat-dog profit-driven finance capital markets.
We call on the Minister of Finance and the government to address the concerns and demands in this memorandum within 14 days. Failure to do so, we will mobilise our members, communities and organised workers to build a momentum towards consistent rolling mass action.
Issued by SACP Western Cape
SACP Western Cape 2nd Deputy Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 0765243242/ 0815846138
ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP
EST. 1921 AS THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF SOUTH AFRICA | CPSA
1921–2022: 101 YEARS OF UNBROKEN STRUGGLE
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