The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) has noted the Medium-Term Budget Policy statement presented by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana. This policy statement was tough act of juggling between consolidating debt and meeting the needs of South Africans.
We are extremely concerned by the neo-liberal posture which our government is religiously stuck – following rigid austerity measures to satisfy their masters, the rating agencies.
These austerity measures are felt by the poor and the working class daily as their children are subjected to overcrowded classrooms, old and dilapidated classrooms, with no libraries and laboratories and the necessary amenities for Early Childhood Development. This projected increase of 3% average in the education budget over the Medium Term is hugely inadequate to address the challenges of schooling at township and far-flung rural schools.
The slowing down of the economy to 1,9% in 2022 after a 4,5% growth in 2021 leaves one with little confidence that this will mitigate against the rising levels of unemployment more especially among the youth and increasing high cost of living. Although the Minister acceded that this level of growth was too low to support our developmental growth, he did not provide concise programmes on how economic growth could be achieved.
Some of the positive we note include the collection by SARS which is more than what was expected. We appreciate the hard work of SARS employees which led to this. We call for further work to consolidate this progress. It is our sincere hope and wish that this extra money not to end in the pockets of thieves from both the public and private sectors but be directed to our development goals.
However, we are extremely disappointed at the cowardly manner government continues to treat the rich with kid gloves. The absolute silence on the wealth tax from those, the few, who continue to enjoy from the fruits of our economy at the expense of overwhelming poor, unemployed masses of our country is an open sign of cowardice.
We note the firm commitment on Climate Change and on taking all necessary steps to ensure that our transition remains just. We are of the firm view that any transition must be the basis for protecting jobs and livelihoods. No town and no community should join the list of Ghost Towns because of inhumane and reckless application of any transition.
Water and energy remain very close to our hearts in our quest for quality public education. We have a great interest in seeing both the water and energy crisis addressed as we can’t imagine the dangers of lack of hygiene and all other health risks associated with a serious water challenge that we are starting to experience now.
The crisis at Eskom should be addressed as a matter of urgency as it remains the greatest albatross on any attempts for economic growth and building a developmental state. Our communities can’t be subjected to plans on paper with no tangible move to end this load shedding which disrupts and cause so much inconvenience to all of us.
We welcome the scrapping of e-tolls, a long-standing demand of our federation COSATU. The scrapping will bring relief to motorists and workers in Gauteng who suffered financial woes of the e-tolls.
The Minister’s reiteration of a wage offer to public servants which includes the 3% Cost of Living adjustment, plus 1,5% pay progression and R1000 non-pensionable gratuity has left us with little hope that something positive will come out of the protracted wage talks.
We reiterate or position that any development state will only be realised with motivated and well-paid public servants. Government must be seized with all attempts to protect collective bargaining and work hard to resolve issues of workers in the PSCBC. We will be part of all attempts by anyone who seeks to resolve the impasse even if it through roping in the CCMA to break the wage deadlock.
The Government, through the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative, introduced Education Assistants and General School Assistants in our schools. They have proven to be of great assistance to the teachers and the running of our schools as they reduced the workload for teachers. We were hoping the Policy Statement would talk to these Assistants so that they are permanently employed.
We urge government to continue with this Presidential initiative as it has served to expose many unemployed youths to the workplace and gained relevant experience. We need to start a discussion on how these Assistants could be supported to pursue their studies sponsored by the Funzha Lushaka project.
We note the extension of the social relief dispensation; more than 7,4 million people depend on this grant because of high unemployment rates. However, we remain concerned about the many shenanigans, maladministration, and inefficiency in reaching all the unemployed. We are in full support of our Federation, COSATU’s call for a Basic Income Grant (BIG). We have always seen the social relief dispensation as a step towards the realisation of BIG.
We welcome the recruitment of additional 15 000 constables over the next three years to fight crime. We further note the response to the recommendations on the State Capture Commission and some progress on taking people to court even though the wheels of our justice system are extremely slow. We are at a point where people are losing confidence in the justice system that seems to be lethargic.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157
Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566