[WSMDiscuss] [social-movements] Fwd: Hunger rebellions and political protests : Western Cape townships aflame; global report from nostalgic-liberal media (Compilation by Patrick Bond)

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Fri Apr 24 07:29:23 CEST 2020

On 4/23/2020 4:37 PM, Jai Sen wrote:
> ... I’m not sure what is making it so – other than, as Patrick Bond 
> and others have said many times, that South Africa was already the 
> most unequal society on Planet Earth – but from his reports and 
> others, it’s clear that open rebellion against the State’s handling of 
> the corona virus epidemic has broken out in South Africa like perhaps 
> nowhere else, in terms of both scale and intensity… A harbinger of 
> things to come elsewhere ? :
>> *From: *Patrick Bond <pbond at mail.ngo.za <mailto:pbond at mail.ngo.za>>
>> *Subject: **[Debate-List] (Fwd) Hunger rebellions and political 
>> protests: Western Cape townships aflame; global report from 
>> nostalgic-liberal media*
>> *Date: *April 23, 2020 at 10:18:57 AM EDT
>> *To: *DEBATE <debate-list at fahamu.org 
>> <mailto:debate-list at fahamu.org>>, "progeconnetwork at googlegroups.com 
>> <mailto:progeconnetwork at googlegroups.com>" 
>> <progeconnetwork at googlegroups.com 
>> <mailto:progeconnetwork at googlegroups.com>>
> (In the zany U.S. the rightwing protesters - in several state 
> capitals, gathering against lockdowns on deluded grounds of "liberty," 
> not poverty - found their FaceBook accounts officially disabled 
> <https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/20/facebook-shuts-down-anti-quarantine-protests-at-states-request-196143>. 
> That could well happen here or anywhere, to progressives, too... is 
> there a Plan B if all social media is retracted including FB's WhatsApp?)

Jai, let me be auto-critical, after looking again at my artificial 
distinction just above - profoundly dualistic and mistaken, I'm sure 
Peter Waterman would have pinged back - between liberty and poverty as 
motivation for protest.

The U.S. rightwing rebellions against lockdowns - the "reopen rallies" - 
are very complicated, since as usual there are elements of 'populist' 
class politics. You can obviously find the hardcore protofascistic 
orientation at the usual-suspect websites - 
https://www.breitbart.com/tag/lockdown-protests/ or 
http://drudgereport.com/  - or https://www.infowars.com/ - or a new 
especially Sinophobic site spawned by Alex Jones: 

But there's no denying that economic suffering - not just hatred of 
perceived state authoritarian rule (even if it is deemed necessary for 
pandemic-control reasons) - is bringing people out on the streets in the 
U.S. and the Paris banluie 
<https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/04/23/unre-a23.html> and no doubt 
many other places, not just South African townships.

As for ideologies motivating the Western Cape protests documented by 
journos, it's really hard to say what's going on. I've taken a new job 
at the University of the Western Cape but as an armchair academic I 
don't have any clue about the ground-level buzz, sorry. I'm guessing my 
students know far more than me about this, as usual, but it's hard to 
stay in touch.

There are a few more powerful critiques of SA state management from 
reputable networks, organisations and trade unions, which I'll append 
below in case they're of interest.

Of critical importance is what happens to trade union consciousness, as 
there appears to be a distinct split - much more pronounced than ever - 
between class struggle and class snuggle strategies. The latter approach 
is at the very end, below, from the Congress of SA Trade Unions, 
reflecting the largest labour federation's proximity to power; the SA 
president and ruling party chairperson were both leaders of the National 
Union of Mineworkers which, until the Marikana Massacre of 2012 where 
that union was seen to be complicit with the power structure, was the 
centre of gravity in the SA organised proletariat, and Cosatu still has 
1.3 million affiliated members. Meantime in 2013-14, the largest single 
union - the metalworkers - split off and the SA Federation of Trade 
Unions emerged to become, now after 3 years, the second largest 
federation with 800 000 preCovid-19 affiliated members. The main 
development in this split over the past few days was Cosatu's largest 
member union, representing nurses and teachers, voicing tough opposition 
in part because of their front-line danger status, in penultimate 
statement below.

Also, to remind of the mistrust of the SA security apparatus, the 
magazine /Amandla /offers this graphic reminder of Marikana in a poster 
issued when Ramaphosa increased the army deployment from fewer than 3000 
to more than 70 000 a few days ago, too.

Perhaps this is the way things will go, when the neoliberal clampdown 
associated with relatively tokenistic welfare handouts - as confirmed 
this week - requires massive securitisation, to contain the food 
rebellions we've been seeing rise, so predictably, across the Western 
Cape, with potential to keep spreading...


*Cry of the Xcluded Press Statement:
We refuse to celebrate our hardship and your relief*

22 April, 2020

Nearly one month into South Africa’s lockdown, the vast majority in 
society faces tremendous suffering and hardship. We have no income, we 
are scrounging for food, we are harassed by the police and SANDF, we are 
subjected to violence in the home. And only now the government responds 
with a social and economic policy.

The opinion makers, mainstream media, comfortable academics, the NGO 
crowd and centrist trade unions all tell us we must welcome R350 – a 
loaf of bread a day. It is too little and too late. This R350 will not 
be able to buy food, electricity, toiletries and pay the expenses that 
we have as the unemployed.

By closing our schools while not putting in place an alternative to the 
school feeding scheme you made our children go hungry. You belatedly 
realise the suffering this has caused by now increasing the Child 
Support Grant by R466.66 on the average for 6 months. Must we thank you 
for recognising the flawed approach of the token food parcels you 
distributed, many of which were gobbled up by your comrade ward 
councillors and other officials?

Let’s be clear, there are over 700 informal settlements in Gauteng 
alone. 25 years of business as usual policies have led us to a point 
when the distribution of 250 000 food parcels within two weeks will be a 
far cry from what is needed, even if all of these food parcels reach a 
destitute family. What is needed now is a move towards true food 
sovereignty, to achieve this requires the radical redistribution of land 
from the few for the many. Agribusiness and major retailers are the 
biggest opponents of such a drive as it would cut right into their 
profits and ability to exploit workers and the land. But we must put 
people’s livelihoods over the profits of a minority.

The aged, who are physically cut off from the support of their children, 
who in turn are being retrenched in their droves and robbed of an 
income, must now make do with an additional R250!

These new R50 billion in grants represent just 10% of your “stimulus 
package” but we, the poor, the destitute, the unemployed constitute more 
than two thirds of the population.


And another R200 billion is a loan guarantee to SA’s big banks. This 
will not involve real government money, except when the banks cannot get 
back their money from the businesses they lend to. And no doubt, these 
loans will be profitable for the banks – through the magic of compound 

So in actual fact, in the face of 40 million people who are facing the 
fear of death, either from the pandemics of poverty or coronavirus, the 
government is providing a stimulus of between R170 and R200 billion. 
This represents just over 3% of the size of our economy – not 10%. This 
3% fiscal stimulus still leaves South Africa at the low end of the world 
war against coronavirus – even though our frontlines are among the 
bloodiest given our world-leading inequality rate.

And what of our brothers and sisters with jobs, the ones now in the 
firing line of businesses which are abusing their power in this time of 
crisis? You have promised them R40 billion in wage support but you 
provide no details. Will this be channelled to the UIF? The UIF, which 
is currently so overwhelmed by the hardship the bosses have caused, that 
they cannot deliver timely relief? And what about women in the care 
economy, those that have and continue to keep households going: domestic 
workers, community health workers, the informalised child minders?

How will they prove loss in wages and be able to obtain your wage 
support? Why could you not do what other countries have done and 
guarantee the wages of workers, even at 80%, like the right-wing Tories 
in Britain?

So must we celebrate the boldness, decisiveness of this government? Has 
it done what has become a neoliberal cliché in time of great distress 
“never let a crisis go to waste”?

Ominously, what comes with this package is the promise of “structural 
reform” – homegrown of course, because the IMF, World Bank, the African 
Development Bank and the New Development Bank will supposedly not seek 
to impose their own versions of structural adjustment. We are told, 
“don’t be ideological – these loans will come with few strings attached.”

Let’s see if they are loans made in local currency to be repaid in local 
currency; let’s see the genuine interest rates; let’s see the 
conditions. Will it be like the World Bank’s massive Medupi loan, to 
overcome our electricity crisis? See where that has led us. A loan that 
is so odious the current President of the World Bank has himself 
labelled it corrupt! And if we now take World Bank funding, will this 
make it impossible for the government to repudiate this Odious Debt?

And as for the structural reforms President Ramaphosa and Finance 
Minister Mboweni are promising? Are they not what business has been 
calling for? Deeper wage reductions, already imposed this month when the 
government reneged on the current bargaining agreement with public 
sector workers (who now take an actual 4%+ wage cut, depending on the 
rate of inflation this year). The President and the Minister of Finance 
should be honest with the nation and tell us how many public sector 
workers must join the ranks of the unemployed in order to reduce the 
public sector wage bill by R161 billion over the next three years.

Does anyone imagine that the IMF, World Bank and credit rating agencies 
like Moody’s which downgraded the country in the midst of the COVID-19 
pandemic, will not enforce these disastrous budget decisions of this 

Perhaps the public sector workers numbering tens of thousands that will 
be retrenched this year to reduce government’s wage bill will have less 
to worry, now that they can get R350 relief as part of the unemployed. 
Oh, but that is just for the next six months! And then it is back to 
normal for the army of unemployed now in excess of 11 million: zero, nothing


And do these structural reforms not entail using the crisis of the SOEs 
to privatise them? SAA, for all intents and purposes is history. ESKOM 
will be unbundled and private corporations will be allowed to make 
profit in the electricity sector, speeding up ESKOM’s death spiral. And 
followed by more retrenchments.

While the poor, working class, and unemployed are presented as the main 
beneficiaries of this package, the big banks are well looked after 
through the R200 billion loan guarantee. Absa, Nedbank and Standard Bank 
paid R17.4 billion to the rich in April in profits even though the 
Reserve Bank Governor asked that they do not do this and drain vital 
foreign currency reserves.

They did not care; clearly, the economic order of the rich must not be 
touched. Our government could do what Denmark and Poland have done by 
refusing to give any Coronavirus support to companies that put money in 
tax havens to avoid paying tax, but this is nothing for South Africa; 
the state refuses to disturb the economic order of big capital!

What Ramaphosa and Mboweni are doing is tossing out a few crumbs from 
manicured fingers, while taking back much more with a clenched fist, 
using a police and army already well practiced in the art of brutality. 
Those who celebrate this “historic”, “momentous” “unprecedented” package 
in the belief a new future awaits, should be a lot more cautious! The 
struggle continues but the momentum is not with the dispossessed and 

Issued by the Cry of the Xcluded, including:

SAFTU, AMCU, Assembly of the Unemployed, Abahlali BaseMjondolo, Inyanda


For more information or comment:

Zwelinzima Vavi (SAFTU)

Nonhle Mbuthuma (ACC)

Pinky Langa (SAGRC)

Joseph Mathunjwa (AMCU)

Khokhoma Motsi (BUM)

Ayanda Kota (UPM)


*President Ramaphosa supplies mainly smoke and mirrors, while the 
society and economy starve *

The SA Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has consistently and 
repeatedly condemned a government ruling the world’s most unequal 
society, where more than 60% of our citizens barely survive below the 
simple measure of R50/per person/day poverty and where four out of every 
ten are unemployed.

In addition to this this existing state of extreme injustice, we have 
suffered more than two months of economic chaos and nearly a month of 
Covid-19 lockdown – with severe police repression and utter incompetence 
by a government incapable of supporting its poor and working people.

Yet President Cyril Ramaphosa well knows that these contradictions 
present a life-and-death situation. His April 21 speech is worth both 
praise where it is due, and condemnation for the illusory benefits 
promised, especially where these will be hijacked by the country’s 
corporate sharks and political elites.

This response is broken down into several sections, addressing the main 
concerns that SAFTU workers have with a state that has so often acted 
against their interests. We especially want to warn our members and 
society about two clear and present dangers:

·      “A risk-adjusted approach to the return of economic activity, 
balancing the continued need to limit the spread of the coronavirus with 
the need to get people back to work” – which judging by the mining 
industry fiasco now underway, will benefit irresponsible capitalists at 
the cost of workers’ lives; and

·      Commits to “speedy implementation of economic reform” and to 
“accelerate the structural reforms required to reduce the cost of doing 
business” – which is code wording for the neoliberal roll-back, attacks 
on workers, and higher cost-recovery regime for state and parastatal 

*1. New 3.33%/GDP fiscal commitment is too small and must be seen as 
only a start*

We are pleased that, finally, President Ramaphosa is expanding the 
state’s extremely weak fiscal and financial commitment. As he pointed 
out, the R500 billion “social and economic support package” consisting 
of both new grants and loans is nearly 10% of the 2019 GDP currently at 
R5.1 trillion, which is itself a vast increase from prior commitments 
(estimated at less than 1% of GDP).

The R500 billion will take many by surprise, since the establishment 
strategy has been much stingier. For example, notwithstanding the 
obvious desperation and growing social unrest due to hunger, last week a 
major bank called for merely a R100 billion stimulus, while Moody’s was 
still demanding that Mboweni pursue such high budget cuts as to achieve 
a primary budget surplus! At first blush, Ramaphosa looks extremely 
generous, in comparison.

It was on February 14 that – replying to Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation 
Address – SAFTU called for a R500 billion fiscal stimulus, before we 
knew the extent of the economic crisis lying ahead. We suggested it be 
paid for by a wealth and solidarity tax, a halt to Illicit Financial 
Flows, higher corporate taxes and more progressive personal income tax. 
We called for a different monetary policy, genuine land reform, and 
robust industrial policy, as well as public works financing of 

On March 15 we demanded urgent implementation of an inward-oriented 
re-industrialisation strategy – also to support the African continent by 
generating more locally-made basic-need commodities – in advance of the 
continental free trade deal. We called for many other healthcare and 
social policy reforms, financially supported by the “Quantitative 
Easing” central bank strategies used in many Northern economies. We 
insisted on tighter exchange controls, to protect the Rand from what was 
then beginning in earnest, a speculative run that dropped the currency 
from R14/$ on 1 January to the current R19/$. And on March 19, we called 
for a 5% cut in the main interest rate (to 1.25%), as a kind of CPR 
(cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to get the economy out of the crisis, 
and especially to get relief to all our countries’ now-desperate borrowers.

Although most of our demands have not been heeded, Ramaphosa has at 
least offered some important state relief. But we must look more 
closely, because the shiny outside of this vehicle disguises serious 
problems under the hood. For example, a massive R200 billion (40%) of 
the support is not actually state-supplied grants in the form of a 
budget allocation, but instead, /loan guarantees/, so these do not 
properly qualify as a fiscal stimulus – and Treasury’s record of 
monitoring how more than R500 billion in guaranteed credits to 
parastatals is simply abysmal, no one would dispute.

Officials in Treasury had earlier said they would fund the budget 
increases entirely from reallocations, so Ramaphosa’s turn to a much 
bigger budget commitment is welcome, even if the question of financing 
the larger deficit is unsatisfactory, a point we return to.

However, Ramaphosa announced that R130 billion had already been 
committed within the existing R1.95 trillion budget announced on 
February 26. (That budget included a R160 billion reduction in civil 
service wages compared to what had been agreed in 2018) The total new 
fiscal stimulus of R170 billion is therefore just 3.33% of GDP. That is 
a vastly inadequate amount compared to what is at stake in terms of 
social and economic survival.

*2. Who wins and losses from budget reallocations? *

It’s not yet clear where the R130 billion fiscal reprioritisation will 
come from, because austerity will hit elsewhere in the budget, usually 
where our people are weakest in defending their allocations. We expect 
to learn more details on Thursday.

But there are many vulnerable parts of our budget, such as water and 
sanitation infrastructure which Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has already 
revealed to be so inadequate that 19 000 new emergency water tanks have 
had to be produced and distributed; although fewer than 8 000 have 
actually been installed so far. These tanks compel many residents in 
poor areas – especially women and girls – to collect water at central 
sites that create dangers of Covid-19 transmission.

Yet Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements held a virtual 
hearing this week where it was revealed that the vital public works 
component of water and sanitation – i.e., building new permanent 
infrastructure – will be hit with a massive R1.1 billion cuts. This is 
something Treasury has been planning even though Ramaphosa has just 
announced, “R20 billion will be made available to municipalities for the 
provision of emergency water supply, increased sanitisation of public 
transport and facilities, and providing food and shelter for the homeless.”

We will be watching for these sorts of utterly irrational, destructive 
budget cuts by Treasury, which for years has been chopping vulnerable 
parts of our budget: especially health, housing, municipal subsidies and 
social grants (which have fallen steadily in real terms since the 1990s, 
especially since poor people’s inflation rate is higher than the rest of 
the economy’s). For a dozen years, Treasury has been guaranteeing 
Eskom’s debt while the National Energy Regulator has allowed the utility 
to increase tariffs especially affecting poor and working people, by 
more than 300% above the inflation rate, resulting in more cut-offs and 
worse service.

So, our trust in Treasury is very low and we must all watch closely to 
ensure the water and sanitation permanent-infrastructure budget cuts are 
not carried out or repeated. There are many areas of infrastructure 
which benefit the rich and big business, and there are vast sums wasted 
on outsourcing of construction and other activities that could be done 
35-40% less expensively if they were insourced.

/There should be major budget reallocations, such as the tens of 
billions of rands of tax benefits going to private health insurance 
companies, thereby slowing the introduction of the National Health 
Insurance. /But water and sanitation infrastructure should not be part 
of these.

*3. Still-inadequate income grants and food support*

A temporary R300 and later R500/month income boost (from June-October) 
will go to nearly 13 million Child Support Grant recipients who are very 
poor (with a single parent earning less than R4000). This will more than 
double their spending power for children (currently R445 per month), 
which is very welcome.

However, given that the Upper Bound Poverty Line is R1300 per month per 
person, the improved child grant leaves the recipients still 25% below 
the poverty line. There are also 3.7 million elderly people and others 
who have disabilities who receive a R1820/month grant that will 
temporarily rise just R250 – far too little.

Likewise, the R350 per month that will be on offer to the unemployed 
millions is truly just tokenistic, at just 62% of government’s own 
measure of the R561 per month food line, and 27% of the overall poverty 
line. There are all manner of complications in assessing who can qualify 
for this, as well. With only 2% of the Unemployment Insurance Fund 
reaching those who qualify after being laid off in recent weeks, our 
faith in the administrative capacity of this state is extremely low.

Far better would have been a generous Universal Basic Income Grant, 
which would eliminate the administrative costs and means-testing errors 
(and corruption), and which could be clawed back through the tax system 
with a more progressive structure, as well as through Reserve Bank 
financing support (as is increasingly common elsewhere, e.g. in Britain).

As for food support, the state cruelly forced poor people into the 
Covid-19 lockdown, within overcrowded ghettoes and barren rural areas, 
without a proper survival system. The water and sanitation shortages 
were one indication of state failure, but the food system is just as 

We are relieved that Ramaphosa has admitted many problems in the 
Department of Social Development’s implementation of food aid. Although 
250 000 food parcels are going to be distributed over the next two 
weeks, he seems to recognise how inadequate this is, given the 
corruption in his own party – with shocking reports of political 
patronage in food distribution – and the state’s incompetence at serving 
poor people.

But the private sector is also flawed as a vehicle for food sales. 
Having heard that social grants will be increased, the monopoly food 
retailers could well increase their prices and pocket the grant 
increases, given how weak state oversight is now. A good government 
would take charge of the food supply chain and give equal allocation of 
food, fruit and vegetable rations to every citizen, and then issue food 
stamps which people use to access these essentials.

This will be an opportunity to engage genuine grassroots farmers and 
progressive allies – e.g. the C19 People’s Coalition – to identify how 
to restructure food and agriculture during this crisis, in a manner that 
builds appropriate state support and community producer capacity, and 
that replaces the junk and rotten food we get in working-class grocery 
ghettoes with good and affordable nutrition. The model for improving 
food allocation and ensuring a proper balanced diet is that of the Cuban 
and Venezuelan governments.

The one grant that Ramaphosa announced, that does appear to be 
sufficiently generous, is to the public health sector. Indeed, the 
unspecified R20 billion in new funding to healthcare will hopefully be 
used to restore the capacity after Treasury’s R3.9 billion cut in the 
February 2020 budget. However, be aware that the Department of Health 
issued a recent scenario in which, in spite of a potential 5.8 million 
South Africans testing positive for Covid-19 by September, the 
additional resource needs from May-September (five months) were only 
R5.5 billion.

SAFTU support the call made by the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union 
(YNITU) that the frontliners be given a Covid – 19 danger allowance, 
income tax break and other benefits to motivate them to keep battling 
against the marauding coronavirus.

*4. Bank bailouts costing R200 billion – will the loans and guarantees 
be wisely used?*

Unfortunately, R200 billion of the amount announced by Ramaphosa will 
come through unspecified lending and loan guarantees, largely through 
the private sector. This component is definitely not to be added to the 
fiscal stimulus, though it could help save jobs if the interest rate is 
to be subsidized, since market rates are so expensive.

Currently, the South African prime rate of 7.75% is among the very 
highest interest rates within the world’s fifty leading economies (where 
SA ranks with Turkey, Pakistan and Venezuela as most expensive to borrow).

But when it comes to the state providing loan guarantees, our first 
concern here is that, like Eskom, SAA, Denel and other badly-run 
parastatal agencies which have benefited from the granting of R500 
billion in loan guarantees, /the Treasury was asleep as vast corruption 
crises emerged. /

Will such corruption affect the new R200 billion in loan guarantees that 
taxpayers will be expected to pay for if the companies go bankrupt? Our 
faith in Treasury’s ability to monitor corruption is very low, as a 
result of its own procurement chief (Kenneth Brown) admitting in late 
2016 that 35-40% of state payments made to outsourced activities (in 
turn about 40% of the budget) was overcharged due to corruption. But 
nothing has been done since that revelation.

Relatedly, our second concern is that South African companies will use 
their renewed access to credit, to continue their record of Illicit 
Financial Flows (IFFs) and other corrupt activities. The IFFs from South 
Africa estimated by the Treasury’s Financial Intelligence Centre in 
October 2019 amount to between $10 billion and $25 billion annually 
(i.e., R190 to R475 billion). There appears to be no attempts by 
Treasury to halt this looting.

Indeed, PwC recorded the South African capitalist class as third most 
prone to such economic crime (behind only China and India) in its 
February 2020 poll.

If Ramaphosa was serious about identifying a patriotic bourgeoise 
deserving of these loan guarantees, he would follow other countries such 
as Denmark: no company registered in tax havens (as many in South Africa 
are, through Mauritius), or that pays out new subsidies and loans in the 
form of dividends or share buy-backs, will be considered eligible for 
state support.

On this point of bank bailouts, recall that we have been down this road 
before. The world financial crisis of 2008-09 could most immediately be 
traced to irresponsible banking in the U.S. But the Federal Reserve’s 
Quantitative Easing, low interest rates and explicit bailouts of banks, 
followed by similar measures in London, Brussels and Tokyo, /did not 
solve capitalism’s underlying problems. /

Instead, the pro-bank policies followed by central banks and treasuries 
from 2008-14 simply offloaded the financial market crisis into a series 
of fiscal crises. In the case of South Africa, this was one reason the 
vast public debt rose, as well as foreign debt (which soared from $60 
billon in 2007 to $185 billion in late 2019).

Poor people across the world have been compelled to pay for this 
generosity through cuts in public spending, including non-payment of 
South Africa’s public servant wage increases and cuts in public health 
budget in 2020. These have left us more vulnerable to the virus than we 
would have been as a society, thus making a brutal lockdowns we are 
having inevitable. The additional R4.5 billion in funding that Ramaphosa 
promised to the security apparatus is, in this context, a profound 
tragedy of state priorities.

*5. Corrupt financing sources must be avoided, so as to declare default 
against same lenders*

It is truly shocking that the world’s most notorious bankers will be 
lending South Africa vast sums to cover the financing of the stimulus, 
instead of using the SA Reserve Bank which has both huge reserves and 
nearly unlimited capacity to print money for fiscal stimulus.

Should billions of dollars be borrowed from international financiers, 
when those same bankers owe South Africans for eroding our state, 
society and economy due to their funding of official racism prior to 
1994 and of post-apartheid corruption? Ramaphosa mentions four: the 
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, the closely-related 
African Development Bank, and the supposedly different BRICS New 
Development Bank. Each should be charged with imposing Odious Debt on a 
society that had no say in past lending, for which billions of dollars 
are still due to be repaid – and instead should be audited and then 
declared as a/lender/ liability.

·      The IMF was a prolific apartheid lender just after 
system-delegitimising crises such as the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, 
the Soweto uprising in 1976 and the gold price crash in 1981. Its role 
was to prop up the apartheid regime financially, even though the UN had 
long declared Pretoria’s policies a “crime against humanity.” During the 
transition to democracy in late 1993, another IMF loan was responsible 
for that era’s extreme neoliberalism that made it impossible to default 
on apartheid’s odious debt and to implement the Reconstruction and 
Development Programme. Conditions on a $850 million loan included a 
variety of Washington Consensus policies that wrecked the new 
democracy’s chances to share our wealth. The IMF’s role in recent weeks 
in relation to Venezuela’s request for $5 billion in funding – which was 
refused on the orders of the Trump regime – and its continuing 
commitment to neoliberalism, mean it cannot be reformed, and should be 
avoided at all costs.

·      The World Bank’s $3.75 billion loan to Eskom in 2010, to build 
the Medupi coal-fired power plant, was the Bank’s largest ever, but its 
then-president Robert Zoellick knew fully well that the boilers Hitachi 
was constructing followed directly from a bribe to the ruling party 
through its Chancellor House fundraising arm – for which Hitachi paid a 
$19 million fine (to the U.S. government in 2015) after Foreign Corrupt 
Practices Act prosecution. The Bank should not be rewarded for this 
corrupt and climate-catastrophic loan, and the debt should be declared 
Odious, for /lender liability /instead. Medupi was such a notoriously 
corrupt project, that when he was U.S. deputy finance minister in 2017, 
the current World Bank President (David Malpass) testified to the U.S. 
Congress that South Africa was his ideal case to show how the Bank 
itself was profoundly corrupt.

·      The African Development Bank made similar loans to Eskom for 
Medupi and Kusile and should also face a creditor “haircut” (as should 
the China Development Bank and other bilateral and commercial lenders).

·      The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) followed in the same spirit, 
by offering Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama 
massive loans in 2016 (for transmission expansion) and 2018 (for Durban 
port expansion), respectively. Both had to be halted due to corruption, 
as even the NDB has admitted. Then in 2019 the NDB lent to Eskom for 
Medupi in spite of massive corruption that had subsequently been 
revealed to extend far beyond the initial Hitachi bribe, and to the 
Lesotho Highlands Water Project in spite of the persistent role of a key 
Lesotho official (Masuphe Sole) who had spent nine years in jail after 
being caught with Swiss bank accounts stuffed by the prior set of 
corrupt multinational corporations building earlier Lesotho dams.

The financing of not just the R170 billion in fiscal stimulus, but the 
use of tax breaks and payment relaxations as proposed, should be 
rethought. Worker pensions should definitely be used under certain 
conditions to avoid them being looted too, and paid a fair return (since 
the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and various other private sector 
investments have proven to be riddled with volatility and corruption). 
The companies that are benefiting from Ramaphosa’s largesse need social 
audits, because many have not only engaged in illicit and licit outflows 
of funds to overseas tax havens (especially London and Amsterdam). They 
have also contributed to the R1.5 trillion in idle corporate cash 
sloshing around, instead of reinvesting profits in plant, equipment and 
employees. Government has so far including through this package refused 
to tax this R1,5 trillion through the introduction of a solidarity and 
wealth tax.

There are plenty of sources of financing available, if exchange controls 
could be immediately tightened to prevent the offshoring of South 
African capital. The most important that Ramaphosa doesn’t mention, is 
the Reserve Bank itself, which can engage in monthly purchases of around 
R20 billion per month according to former Treasury official Andrew 
Donaldson. Indeed, there are vast sums that the Reserve Bank can create, 
to pump funds into every South African households, according to the 
tenets of Modern Monetary Theory which many governments are now using 
during this emergency. John Maynard Keynes himself had suggested massive 
state ‘pump-priming’ to get economies going in times of economic 

The sorry state of the economic policy debate in South Africa today is 
reflected in the fact that Ramaphosa dares not mention these Reserve 
Bank interventions, much less the long-overdue taxation increases on the 
rich and corporations (which in 1995 paid a 55.5% tax rate, compared to 
28% today – even prior to loopholes).

*6. The social tensions will continue rising: a socialist programme is 
more necessary than ever*

South African society is in pain, with many of our most desperate 
members of the precariat and proletariat moving from despair to revolt.

In this context of unprecedented suffering, the 3.33% fiscal commitment 
is a great improvement over the 0.1% that Treasury initially offered. 
Nevertheless, according to the Overseas Development Institute, this is 
less than /a quarter /of the fiscal commitment made by a conservative 
government in Britain with social deprivation problems that are a tiny 
fraction of South Africa’s.

We still call for at least the level that the Boris Johnson regime has 
offered the UK, namely 16.3% of GDP as a fiscal stimulus (/new 
/commitments) to rebuild our economy and society: at least R830 billion.

And we still call for a much deeper cut in the interest rate, which at 
5.25% (the Reserve Bank repurchase rate) needs to be cut by our original 
request of 5% - i.e., another 4% - to make a dent in the enormous 
interest burden that the society, state and business cover. President 
Ramaphosa’s claim that the 2% interest rate cut will boost the economy 
by R80 billion appears far too generous, given the collapsed state of so 
many firms which can’t repay lenders already. Edcon, the Land Bank and 
SAA are just the latest to default, plunging tens of thousands of 
workers into what may be long-term unemployment, and many more firms and 
parastatals will follow, with a cascade of bankruptcies likely to 
threaten our banking system.

But we also know from the Rand’s crash, especially after the slight SARB 
loosening, that our unpatriotic bourgeoisie now needs very tight 
exchange controls to reign in their Illicit Financial Flows – as well as 
the Licit Financial Flows going to multinational corporations and banks 
which need to be paid in local not increasingly scarce foreign currency. 
Above all, we need to avoid being put even further into global financial 
circuits, which squeeze us and eventually impose the kinds of neoliberal 
constraints for which the credit rating agencies are notorious.

These are the big-picture problems with the Ramaphosa government’s 
handling of Covid-19’s socio-economic catastrophe. The micro-scale 
problems are worthy of much more discussion, especially with committed 
social activists.

That’s why we must, in conclusion, strongly condemn this statement by 
President Ramaphosa: “Our economic strategy going forward will require a 
new social compact among all role players – business, labour, community 
and government – to restructure the economy and achieve inclusive growth.”

Ramaphosa makes this promise: “We will forge a compact for radical 
economic transformation that ensures that advances the economic position 
of women, youth and persons with disabilities, and that makes our 
cities, towns, villages and rural areas vibrant centres of economic 
activity. Our new economy must be founded on fairness, empowerment, 
justice and equality.”

We condemn this not because it is undesirable or impossible, /but 
because we know from bitter experience that the ANC government is not 
serious about consulting much less compacting with progressives in civil 
society/. The government is only consulting/the yes Sir of society./

Both SAFTU and critical social movements have been shut out of 
consultations on the major state policies since the time of the Growth, 
Employment and Redistribution strategy in 1996, when a neoliberal 
programme was simply imposed from above. Even today, the National 
Economic Development and Labour Council continues to exclude South 
Africa’s second largest union federation – SAFTU – including the 
country’s largest union (the metalworkers, NUMSA), as well as critical 
forces within civil society. The voices of poor communities who are 
representing our most desperate citizens continue to be suppressed.

In contrast, the ongoing neoliberal agenda – the “structural reform” 
that the state has long established working closely with big business, 
especially white-owned companies which long ago relocated their head 
offices and financial functions to London – is completely contrary to 
the interests of the masses. The lack of consultation with most 
progressives and the failure of any social contract since the mid-1990s 
to include core labour and social movement constituents, will be a 
guarantee of this strategy’s failure in the days, weeks and months to come.

In short, the most important question society must consider, now and at 
all times, is who benefits from these measures? And who pays?

SAFTU demands:

•      Allow all who can to work from home, with special leave without 
loss of pay for others, except workers providing health services, food 
and other necessities, who must have safe working conditions, protective 
gear, anti-transmission training and regular testing.

•      Build a single, public national health care service for all.

•      Mass employment and training of health assistants and community 
healthcare workers to contain the spread and ensure treatment and 
services at point of need.

•      Support the immediate shutting down of schools, pre-schools, 
universities and colleges to limit the spread; provide special childcare 
for essential services workers.

•      Roll out free testing at temporary stations in all communities; 
quality medical services and medication for all.

•      Free soap, water and sanitisers in every public space, workplace 
and poor community.

•      Stop and reverse all water and electricity cut-offs and supply 
water to all households.

•      Basic income grant and free basic food supplies for precarious 
workers, the unemployed and others forced to stay home and in need.

•      Stop all retrenchments.

•      Nationalise all private health-care sectors and pharmaceutical 

•      No profiteering from the pandemic

•      Suspend payments of rent, rates, water and electricity tariffs.

•      Emergency loans to small businesses in need.

•      No evictions.

•      Set up import-substituting industries to ensure continuous supply 
of all essential needs for which the country currently depends on imports.

•      Permanent, secure and decent-paying jobs and training for all 
workers including those in community health care, home-based care, food 
production, distribution and retail.

•      Massive public works programme to overcome backlogs in housing, 
schooling infrastructure, hospitals and clinics, piped water supply and 
safe public transport.

•      Reorganise the economy on the basis of public ownership of all 
key resources (banks, mines, big businesses) and a democratic plan to 
prioritise health, education, housing, work, water, sustainable food and 
energy production.

•      No restrictions on workers’ democratic rights to strike and organise.

•      Fight racism, tribal division and narrow nationalist chauvinism.

•      Fight against gender based violence and protect our children

•      A more human approach by the SAPS and the SANDF as it enforce the 
lockdown regulations

The statement issued by South African Federation of Trade Unions

SAFTU General Secretary | Zwelinzima Vavi

Contact details 079-182-4170

_zwelinzimav at saftu.org.za <mailto:zwelinzimav at saftu.org.za>_


*President completely disregarded nurses in his announcement of the 
relief support packages for COVID-19*

Sibongiseni Delihlazo, DENOSA Communication Manager, Wednesday, 22 April 

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) is saddened 
to note that the President, in his announcement of relief packages, 
completely forgot about nurses who are on the ground and in the 
coal-face of the COVID-19, which has left a bitter taste as many of them 
fight this war bare hands.

The announcement has cemented nurses' long-held view that they are not 
appreciated despite their great contribution, most of which has seen 
many patients recovering from COVID-19.

The announcement has left nurses with the message that says they are on 
their own, because they are enduring the following hardships as a result 
of COVID-19:

a) Nurses' salaries have not been adjusted as of 1 April as per the 
collective agreement, and DENOSA and other unions had to declare a 
dispute at PSCBC (which has been set for 28 to 30 April) against 
government not honouring the agreement;

b) Transport expenditure has doubled for them because they often have to 
take longer and connecting routes to their places of work with no 
support with transportation from the Department of Health;

c) Nurses have to endure a decreased disposable income now as a result 
of the lockdown at the time when their salaries have not been adjusted, 
when countries like Ghana have given tax breaks for four months to 
assist health workers as a gesture of appreciation for their work of 
selflessness during this period;

d) Many nurses still work without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in 
facilities and are exposed to the danger of contracting the virus - and 
many others already have - and their calls for payment of Risk Allowance 
for COVID-19, like other essential workers are getting, has fallen on 
deaf ears so far.

e) Nurses' Uniform Allowance, which should have been paid to them for 
this financial year (which began in April), has not been paid to them 
when other essential service workers are getting multiple pairs of full 
uniform. And it normally takes up to July and boycott of wearing uniform 
before they are paid this Allowance;

f) Still there is no counseling support for them at this time of need in 
facilities as more COVID-19 patients are admitted and no additional 
staff is hired.

Therefore, DENOSA would like to highlight that nurses are extremely 
disappointed that not a single one of the above challenges has been 
acknowledged and addressed by Cabinet. This has deflated their morale to 
extreme low, and it is not unreasonable to feel the way they do.

DENOSA's message to President and Minister of Health is that it is still 
not too late to address this oversight. As a matter of urgency, DENOSA 
national leaders are currently seeking an audience with both the 
Minister of Health and President over these urgent matters.

Overall, DENOSA welcomes the various relief packages that the President 
announced because poverty as a result of the lockdown was threatening to 
create a new health crisis for many patients who are on chronic 
medication and would not be able to take their medication on empty stomachs.

We welcome the setting aside of funds to address staffing, because the 
reality is that South Africa has far too few health workers to handle 
COVID-19 if it were to rise to catastrophic levels. We will continue to 
make noise in this area, because it is in the best interest of 
communities to have enough health workers.

We acknowledge the commitment to procure PPEs, but we will not dwell 
much on this because these should have been provided long time ago as it 
is expected of every caring employer.


*Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)*

**** *

(This is Cosatu's biggest union if I'm not mistaken, with 235 000 
members: even larger than the mineworkers. It's the largest public 
sector union:

/"We are disappointed and underwhelmed by the timid stimulation package 
announced by the President which falls short relative to the necessary 
amount required for employment-creating and robust positive GDP growth 
rate. This is on top of the government’s failure to reverse its decision 
to disrespect and renege on the 2018 public service wage agreement, 
which is a frontal attack on the hard won gains of workers, particularly 
those who continue to make sacrifices providing front-line services to 
our people in saving lives, delivering essential services and enforcing 
law and order... It is strange that amidst massive capital outflows out 
of emerging economies and South Africa in particular, government and the 
South African Reserve Bank (SARB) fails to impose capital controls to 
stem the unfolding devaluation of the domestic assets. We note the 
increases in the public health expenditure, but unfortunately this is 
still inadequate given the persisting disparities in terms of the 
clinical personnel, beds, medical devises and other infrastructure 
compared to the private health sector. The South African public health 
system has been neglected for many decades, such that massive resources 
are still needed if we are to accelerate the implementation of the 
National Health Insurance (NHI)."/

Below, find last night's Cosatu statement. Eish.)



*National Education Health & Allied Workers Union*


E-Mail: SecretariatPA at nehawu.org.za <mailto:SecretariatPA at nehawu.org.za>



33 Hoofd Street

3^rd Floor, Forum iv


P.O. Box 10812

Johannesburg, 2000

Tel: (011) 833-2902

Fax:(011) 833-0757

Website: www.nehawu.org.za <http://www.nehawu.org.za>



Wednesday April 22, 2020

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) notes 
the economic and social measures announced by President Ramaphosa to the 
nation last night.

The impact of the combined global capitalist crisis and COVID-19 
pandemic is likely to plunge all regions, including Africa, into 
recession as forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In the 
last few months since the outbreak of COVID-19 the developing economies, 
including South Africa, have witnessed massive capital outflows.

In South Africa, we are in a worse predicament as our economy was 
already pushed into a technical recession when the Coronavirus outbreak 
was announced. This is the third technical recession since the start of 
the implementation of the misguided austerity programme in 2015 - that 
has failed to achieve its targets in terms of reducing the 
budget-deficit and public-debt. The Treasury’s current Medium Term 
Expenditure Framework (MTEF) announced during the Budget Speech by Tito 
Mboweni disgracefully departed from the macroeconomic framework outlined 
in the 2019 ANC election manifesto.

With deep fiscal cuts particularly singling-out the public service 
workers under the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) 
and other social cuts such as in public railway transport, Mboweni MTEF 
was destined to plunge the economy to even deeper depths of recession – 
and thus creating yet another round of a vicious cycle of economic 
contraction, followed by revenue shortfalls and then more borrowing at 
rising premium. In the event, the price of this austerity programme was 
the junk-status downgrade of the country’s sovereign rating by Moody’s, 
which effectively put paid to the Treasury’s MTEF.

We are disappointed and underwhelmed by the timid stimulation package 
announced by the President which falls short relative to the necessary 
amount required for employment-creating and robust positive GDP growth 
rate. This is on top of the government’s failure to reverse its decision 
to disrespect and renege on the 2018 public service wage agreement, 
which is a frontal attack on the hard won gains of workers, particularly 
those who continue to make sacrifices providing front-line services to 
our people in saving lives, delivering essential services and enforcing 
law and order...  It is rather bizarre to seek to stimulate the economic 
growth through borrowing from the (IMF) and some budget reallocations on 
the one hand, whilst continuing to do the opposite in cutting the public 
sector wage bill. This can only serve to depress the township and rural 
economies as many public servants rent accommodation in townships due to 
their exclusion from housing mortgage lending by the banks. In this 
regard, we call on the Minister of Finance to prioritise the issue of 
the payment of salary increases for frontline workers who are busy fight 
the pandemic when he revises the budget and he must reverse the decision 
to cut the public service wage bill with immediate effect.

The immediately implementation of the pension-backed Government Employee 
Housing Scheme would create more than half million new home owners 
without any additional borrowing by government and a concrete catalyst 
for the revival of the labour-intensive construction sector. 
Simultaneously this would have induced other multiplier-effects or 
spin-offs in the interconnected sectors.

It is strange that amidst massive capital outflows out of emerging 
economies and South Africa in particular, government and the South 
African Reserve Bank (SARB) fails to impose capital controls to stem the 
unfolding devaluation of the domestic assets. We note the increases in 
the public health expenditure, but unfortunately this is still 
inadequate given the persisting disparities in terms of the clinical 
personnel, beds, medical devises and other infrastructure compared to 
the private health sector. The South African public health system has 
been neglected for many decades, such that massive resources are still 
needed if we are to accelerate the implementation of the National Health 
Insurance (NHI).

The multiple crises we face as a country require innovative, bold, 
decisive and courageous stance on the part of our government. 
Unfortunately, the persistent religious adherence to neoliberal 
orthodoxy, even in the face of such an unprecedented scale of 
socioeconomic catastrophe, represents a missed opportunity in spiking up 
the economic growth curve whilst driving the flattening the Coronavirus 

*Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat *

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso 
(Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU National 
Spokesperson) at 082 455 2500 or email: khaya at nehawu.org.za 
<mailto:khaya at nehawu.org.za>Visit NEHAWU website: _www.nehawu.org.za 


*From: *Sizwe Pamla <sizwe.cosatu at gmail.com <mailto:sizwe.cosatu at gmail.com>>

*Subject: COSATU welcomes the announced R500 billion incentive and 
relief package to stabilize the economy and give relief to the poor*

*Date: *21 April 2020 at 10:28:52 PM SAST

*To: *COSATU Press Group <cosatu-press-group at googlegroups.com 
<mailto:cosatu-press-group at googlegroups.com>>

*COSATU welcomes the announced R500 billion incentive and relief package 
to stabilize the economy and give relief to the poor*

*21 April 2020*

COSATU welcomes the President’s announcement of a R500 billion incentive 
and relief package to stabilize the economy and save jobs during this 
lockdown and as part of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time, where 
we are struggling because of shrinking resources, this drastic effort by 
the government is welcomed and laudable.

*Unemployment Insurance Fund:*The R40 billion that has been put aside to 
assist workers who have been retrenched or put on unpaid leave is a 
commendable intervention, but it is unacceptable that less than 2% of 
these funds have reached workers. We need more decisive action to ensure 
that the UIF systems work and deliver on time.

The government must equally use the full force of the Disaster 
Management Regulations to ensure that employers apply for the UIF relief 
funds on behalf of workers. We also welcome the R100 billion amount 
allocated to save jobs. Further announcements to increase income 
guarantee to informal workers are welcomes and must be used as an 
instrument to formalize the informal economy.

COSATU hopes that the issue of nonpayment of salary increases for public 
servants will be resolved at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining 
Council (PSCBC). These workers deserve better, especially now that they 
are carrying the nation on their backs. We also would like to see 
government working with the GEPF to mobilise some of the worker's 
retirement savings to fund the Government Employees Housing Scheme 
(GEHS). This will go a long way to helping the hundreds of thousands of 
workers with no access to housing.**

*Social Grants: *The decision of social grants adjustments is welcomed 
because social grants are currently the only income stream to millions 
of families now.  The topping up of social grants provides the fastest 
poverty relief measure for over 18 million recipients.

A R350 income grant for the unemployed will go a long way in saving the 
unemployed from unnecessary hardships. This is in line with COSATU’s 
long standing call to increase the social security net to unemployed 
individuals between the ages 18-59 through the Basic Income Grant (BIG).

*Health: *We are happy with the allocation of R20 billion to the fight 
against Covid-19.**The allocation must be used to enhance health systems 
and facilities as the building blocks towards the implementation of the 
National Health Insurance. To date approximately 120 000 persons have 
been tested.  This is woefully inadequate. The government must ensure 
that over the next two weeks measures are put into place to test all 
workers at the places of work starting with workers currently on duty.

Measures need to be put in place to ensure all transport, workplaces and 
educational institutions are sanitized and kept safe for workers and 
learners now and post-shutdown. This includes the urgent provision of 
PPEs for essential workers.

*Economic Measures:*

We welcome the commitment to infrastructure spending going forward.

We agree and support the principle of the gradual reopening of the 
economy, as long as proper protocols are developed to keep the workers 
safe from the virus. Workers and employers must begin a process of 
consultation in the bargaining councils to conduct risk assessments in 
the sector and adapt workplaces.

Big corporations need to free their own resources and come to the 
party.  Big Business needs to match the amount that the government has 
placed on the table. The banks need to do more than what they have done 
so far. Nothing less than a R1 trillion stimulus plan will be sufficient 
to turn our already bleeding economy around and save workers from the 
pain of skyrocketing unemployment levels.

What we also want to see, going forward, is that every cent goes to 
serving its intended purpose. Therefore, corruption of any kind must not 
be tolerated. The ANC led government must lead decisively to root out 
all forms of corruption that might rear its ugly head as we endeavor to 
raise funds to fight the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 virus.

*Issued by COSATU*


Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911

Fax: 011 339 5080

Cell: 060 975 6794


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200424/03c76bb1/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: nliclknchdlcgfeh.jfif
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 138631 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200424/03c76bb1/attachment.jpe>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: pnkkliniglfojnho.png
Type: image/png
Size: 6979 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200424/03c76bb1/attachment.png>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: ofnopfglniephjon.png
Type: image/png
Size: 80743 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200424/03c76bb1/attachment-0001.png>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: fpifkinmaabbfpjk.png
Type: image/png
Size: 39007 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200424/03c76bb1/attachment-0002.png>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list