Cosatu, Budget Justice Coalition oppose proposed Treasury austerity

The labour federation is opposed to any austerity. File image

The labour federation is opposed to any austerity. File image

Published Sep 7, 2023


The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), an ally of the governing ANC has added its voice in opposition to the proposed austerity measures by the national treasury citing that South Africa is facing a cash crunch.

The biggest labour federation has been joined by the Budget Justice Coalition in opposing the proposed move.

On Wednesday, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said it is against any new austerity measures, as they would further weaken social services and worsen the country’s infrastructure backlogs.

On Thursday Cosatu said it rejects the national treasury's reckless attempts to impose misguided austerity budget cuts across government.

It added that while it “appreciates the real fiscal constraints facing the state and the need to cut fat and reprioritise expenditure, the solutions offered by the treasury of slashing expenditure and further decapacitating the state when the economy is in desperate need of stimulus and a well-oiled and capacitated public services, would only serve to choke the economy”.

“What is needed now is to grow the economy. That is the only sober path to pay down our worrying debt trajectory.

“Pickpocketing nurses and underpaying police officers is not a solution.

“If we are to grow the economy and reduce unemployment, and thus increase the revenue the state needs to reduce debt, then government needs to deal with the fundamental obstacles suffocating the economy, workers and businesses,” the federation said.

The Budget Justice Coalition which he Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC), the Children’s Institute at UCT (CI), Corruption Watch (CW), the Dullah Omar Institute at UWC (DOI), Equal Education (EE), Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), Oxfam SA, Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMEJD), the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP), SECTION27, also opposed the proposal.

It said this is an unprecedented directive that undermines democratic processes and these sudden, immediate measures will only serve to widen the gap between those who are hungry and live below the food poverty line and those who are wealthy.

It also cautioned that these budget cuts will have long-term detrimental effects on the economy and the progressive realisation of socio-economic rights protected by the South African Constitution.

Moreover, the measures will further impede the state’s ability to increase much-needed capacity in key areas, such as crime prevention, health, education, social development and early childhood services.

“While these budget cuts are likely to be felt by all, the gendered nature of poverty, inequality and unemployment means that this approach to the budget will further entrench gender inequality in a context where women already fill the gap caused by austerity measures with their unpaid care work.

“The National Treasury has led a campaign of fear regarding an immediate fiscal crisis.

The coalition added that this serves to create an environment of panic in order to ram through unpopular and unnecessary budget cuts.

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