COSATU 2024/25 Budget Address Expectations statement

16 February 2024

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and workers across the nation have high expectations for the 2024/25 Budget due to be presented by the Minister for Finance, Enoch Godongwana to Parliament on 21 February 2024.

The challenges facing workers, society, the economy and the state are daunting.  The nation is still struggling to recover from a painful decade of state capture and corruption, stubbornly high unemployment at 41% generally and 60% for young people, the world’s highest levels of inequality, the global pandemic of COVID-19 and the economic lockdown, a painful period of loadshedding, endemic crime and corruption including cable theft, embattled State-Owned Enterprises and increasingly dysfunctional municipalities, badly overstretched public services and weak economic growth.

These are the key challenges workers expect the Budget to address through bold and decisive measures if President Cyril Ramaphosa’s progressive State of the Nation Address’ commitments are to be achieved.

Society correctly expects more from the governments they elect to office, and which are funded through their hard-earned wages and taxes.  Whilst we are disappointed by the pace at which our numerous socio-economic challenges are being resolved, and this is healthy for a robust and noisy democracy, we should equally acknowledge and applaud where green shoots are appearing.

Important progress we welcome over the past year includes a 5% reduction in the unemployment rate, the R253 billion debt relief package for Eskom and overall reductions in loadshedding, an 8.5% increase in the National Minimum Wage as well as the pending enactment of the Two Pot Pension Reforms due to come into effect on 1 September 2024.  These provide hope and relief for struggling workers.

Whilst applauding these achievements, much remains to be done, in particular in the remaining few months of the 6th administration and Parliament.  Key interventions COSATU expects government to provide in the Budget include the following urgent high impact interventions:

  • A massive expansion of the Presidential Employment Stimulus to accommodate at least 1 million people by April and 2 million by November 2024, to help break the back of youth unemployment.
  • Parliamentary passage and enactment of the Two Pot Pension Reforms by 1 September 2024 giving relief to millions of highly indebted workers.
  • Adjusting the SRD Grant to recover value lost to inflation since it commenced in 2020 by April 2024 and to the Food Poverty Line by November 2024 helping 8 million unemployed persons.
  • Further relief to Eskom to ensure we emerge from loadshedding by December 2024.
  • A massive package of interventions, including debt relief, for Transnet to save thousands of at-risk jobs and unlock the mining, manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
  • Urgent interventions to stabilise and rebuild other embattled SOEs including Metro Rail, Denel, the SABC, Post Office and Postbank.
  • A stabilisation package for local government, including the 36 municipalities routinely failing to pay staff and those struggling to provide quality municipal services.
  • Reversing the freeze on infrastructure expenditure and an accelerated roll out.
  • Massive injection of financial support for industrial, localisation and export programmes to boost our manufacturing sectors and jobs.
  • Additional resources for key law enforcement organs to turn the tide against crime, corruption and tax evasion, in particular the South African Revenue Service, the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and the courts.
  • Filling critical vacancies across frontline public services.
  • Plans to modernise essential public services the working class depends upon, in particular the CCMA, UIF, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases, Home Affairs and NSFAS.

If we are to stimulate the economy, create jobs, reduce poverty and inequality, end loadshedding, rebuild our railway network and modernise our ports, stabilise and fix local government, place SOEs on a sustainable path, tackle entrenched crime and corruption and generate the tax revenue the state requires to provide quality public services; then government must be decisive and match its progressive objectives with concrete interventions, resources and funding, clear time frames and install a culture of accountability for those who fail to deliver.

What we cannot afford is another Budget based on the delusion that our sole challenge as a society is our debt level and to hope the economy will grow, unemployment fall and public and municipal services will be rebuilt and SOEs be fixed by some divine miracle.  The key to resolving these ticking time bombs is a bold and aggressive budget.  Workers’ patience is not limitless, nor do we have the luxury of time.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687