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WATCH: Saftu and Equal Education embark on protests ahead of Budget speech

Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Published Feb 24, 2021


Videos: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Cape Town - While Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will deliver his budget speech for the year on Wednesday, civil society groups and unions will protest near Parliament.

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The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is embarking on nationwide protest action on Wednesday in protest against inequality and other socio-economic issues.

The protests are supported by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

General Industries Workers Union Of South Africa (Giwusa) Western Cape secretary, Abeedah Adams, spoke about Saftu’s demands during the union’s national march in Cape Town.

“Our demands are that we want to have a moratorium on job losses. We are saying also that government must instruct employers not to use Covid-19 as an excuse to retrench workers.

“We are facing a bloodbath. This was already the case before Covid-19 pandemic and before we had the lockdown, but we do know that a number of employers are using that... We’re also saying that the budget is anti-poor and an austerity budget - which means that the working class and the poor will suffer more under this budget.

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Equal Education (EE) members will also protest against education budget cuts, demanding that Mboweni reverse the cuts and prioritise spending on education.

“Government is placing less importance on education when deciding how to spend its money, and last year minister Mboweni announced that government would reduce education funding every year for the next three years. The consequence is that the right of learners to basic education is being compromised,” said EE spokesperson Jay-Dee Cyster.

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"National Treasury is failing to prioritise basic education and has shown this through the supplementary budget tabled in June last year, by taking R2.1 billion from the overall Department of Basic Education (DBE) budget.

“R1.7 billion was cut from the school infrastructure grants alone, and a further R4.4 billion has been reallocated within these grants to cover Covid-19 expenses. To add insult to injury, R276 million was taken from the basic education budget to fund South African Airways (SAA),” Cyster said.

“Almost 2 000 school infrastructure projects have been stopped or delayed in the 2020/2021 financial year.”

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EE is calling on Mboweni to:

  • Ensure basic education funding grows (and keeps in line with education inflation);
  • Ensure National Treasury increases funding for school infrastructure;
  • Ensure the DBE, provincial education departments and all government service providers use public money efficiently and effectively
  • Ensure the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) has the money needed to feed every one of the learners who qualifies for it.
  • Classify the DBE as a frontline department in the fight against Covid-19.

Cape Argus