Members of the Southern Africa Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC) an environmental and social justice movement, along with other community-based organizations in Mpumalanga, amongst is Emalahleni Civic Organization (ECO) and Middelburg Environmental Justice Network (MEJN), will submit a memorandum the Mpumalanga Provincial Treasury today. The Treasury is receiving this memorandum for the second time. We take note that the Treasury chose to ignore our first submission and chose to continue with budget cuts, ignoring our demands.
We are, however, concerned that the Treasury continues to ignore our demands, unemployment, poverty, hunger, violence and all other social ills facing communities of Mpumalanga, which are on a sharp rise. The collapse and decay of many municipalities in the province of Mpumalanga could be blamed on Budget cuts, and we believe the Treasury must take the blame.
Now that we are drawing closer to the National and Provincial elections, more empty promises fuelled by the interests of the advocates of neoliberalism. Our communities can not be subjected to the interests of the greedy, but parasitic elites who have infiltrated every sphere of government to serve an agenda which places our country against the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
It has become a tradition, after every election, our pots remain empty and we are still hungry. Promises of jobs, houses, services and addressing climate change cannot be kept if we don’t spend the money needed to provide it.
The money put aside for local government is also being slashed. Local government is responsible for providing basic services to communities. With even less money provided to local government by the national government, municipalities will be forced to increase the prices of rates, water and electricity. More people will be pushed into the deep pool of poverty, service delivery will get even worse, and we get closer and closer to a climate disaster!
Local government and municipalities get blamed for being indebted and facing financial crises. Corruption is a problem. But it’s not the only problem. Municipalities will invariably face this problem because they are forced to raise revenues from selling services to the poor majority – who are unemployed most of whom survive on below a measly R1335 per month (the upper bound poverty level). Water meter devices and prepaid electricity further impoverishes people and exclude the majority from being provided with dignified services. These policies must be challenged and addressed as it impedes on people’s constitutional rights.
While the government has cut spending, it lowered taxes for corporations. This means the rich will get even richer because they pay less taxes. This also means even less money for the government to spend on public services. We are tired of empty promises, we are tired of empty pots. There are alternatives and lots of resources that we can harness to pay for a budget that prioritises the needs of the people of Mpumalanga and entire South Africa. There’s no reason the poor should be left to pay the check and bear the bulk of the costs of the debt crisis, while the private sector and the rich will profit.
Our most urgent and pressing demand is an end to austerity. Cutting the budget in a time of economic stagnation will destroy the very tools and resources we need to jump-start the economy. This requires a huge mobilization of state resources that will pump life back into our economy. Alongside this is our demand for an end to casualisation and temporary work. EPWP workers must be insourced and given the benefits afforded to permanent workers.
A Basic Income Grant
People are starving and without food, to end this, the state should look to progressively introduce an unconditional universal basic income grant. We need a basic income now for 18 – 59 year-olds who are without stable income to receive a basic grant from the state!
This basic income grant would boost the economy, creating demand for products and services, and thus creating many jobs. Government must focus on attracting people back into the economy instead of just foreign investors.
We demand a basic income grant of R1500 that meets the immediate living needs of the unemployed.
We further reject the privatization and commodification that is creeping into every aspect of our lives. We cannot allow the provision of essentials of life to be driven by the pursuit of profit. Companies are accountable to nobody except investors and shareholders – they will not act in our best interest.
The Just Transition towards overcoming Climate Crisis
We the communities and excluded, recognise the existence of climate change as an emergency for our people and the planet which we are experiencing in our daily lives. We, therefore, demand that our government oversee a just transition from our current economy to a low-carbon economy based on 100% renewable energy by 2030 to avoid the crisis of a 1.5C° increase.
They must leave not one worker behind! Government must reject its ties to fossil capital and reject advances by businesses through the REI4P that wants to capture our renewable energy resources for private profit.
We reject and condemn all those who wish to privatise Eskom and who welcome its death spiral. We demand a new transparent and accountable Eskom, free from corruption, that moves to generate 100% renewable energy at the cheapest possible price.
We further demand that our government meet the climate crisis through these other areas:
- We demand the provision of fully public, quality, safe, and affordable public transport! Specifically, the government must urgently intervene in the crisis at PRASA and deal with the looters.
- We demand a housing plan for well-located homes that gives us dignity! These houses must be climate houses with solar panels, rainwater catchment and greywater systems.
- We want proper sanitation services! We are sick of living in shit, we want decent toilets and proper sewage and stormwater systems. All of this will help us adapt to the future droughts of climate change which will make the spread of disease more likely.
- We call for the creation of public parks and a mass tree-planting programme so we can thrive alongside our biodiversity.
- In all of these areas we are demanding of the government, put us to work and we will build these things as we have done for everything else in this economy that excludes us.
And when the voices of the ruling class say that what we demand is impossible and unrealistic, and when they rhetorically ask “who will pay for all this?”, we will give them our answer!
“Tax the rich and the big polluters so that the poor can live! Allow us to save our planet because the rich certainly will not!”
Finally, we say this: We are calling on our people to rise up! We call on our people, the working class, employed and unemployed, to unite, to resist and, in their resistance, to show there is another way, a fair, just and righteous path – a path deserving of the sacrifices of those who have fallen in the struggle for a better life for all. We built South Africa and South Africa belongs to us, now is the time to make SA #WorkForUs.
For more information contact:
Matthews Hlabane (SAGRC) 082 707 9860
Bafana Hlatshwayo (MEJN) 076 923 2298
Sweetness Khoza ( SAGRC) 073 419 8181
Portia Makgata (ECO) 076 618 5051
Ntokozo Ncongwane (SAGRC) 081 016 2338
Jobs, Services, and Dignity!