Statement on the budget, racial connotations of eNCA’s coverage of reactions to the budget, and the developmental role played by SAA
28 February 2021
The Political Bureau of the South African Communist Party (SACP) met on Friday and Saturday, 26–27 February 2021. The meeting was held through technological connectivity due to the situation imposed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Budget and fiscal framework
The primary crisis affecting South Africa is an endemic capitalist system crisis indicated by the persisting high levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality, and the associated widespread problem affecting many households, the systemic incapacity to support themselves, a crisis of social reproduction. The key question is where South Africa will be in relation to each one of these capitalist system crises at the end of the medium-term fiscal framework, or financial year 2023/2024, outlined on Wednesday, 24 February 2021 by the Minister of Finance.
As things stand, the insufficient, and for that matter still not inclusive, projected real economic growth is heading southward, as a curve: 3.3 per cent in 2021, 2.2 per cent in 2022, and 1.6 per cent in 2023. Not unrelated, the consolidated fiscal framework is anchored in austerity, which will certainly not resolve the crisis of social reproduction and its underpinning crisis-high levels of unemployment, poverty, and inequality.
The austere, consolidated fiscal framework cuts the government spending as a proportion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), by 4 per cent from 41.7 per cent in 2020/2021 to 37.7 per cent in 2021/2022, by 1.5 per cent in 2021/2022 from 37.7 per cent to 36.2 per cent in 2022/2023, and by 1.3 per cent in 2022/2023 from 36.2 per cent to 34.9 per cent in 2023/2024.
The division of nationally raised revenue also reflects cuts in the share of national departments as a proportion of the GDP, by 1.7 per cent in 2020/2021 from 51.2 per cent to 49.5 per cent in 2021/2022. This cut is followed by further cuts in the medium-term estimates of the share of national departments as a proportion of the GDP, covering the period the 2021/2022–2023/2024 financial years.
Considering all the cuts that run through the 2021/2022 budget and 2021/2022–2023/2024 medium-term fiscal framework, it just does not make sense to argue that the budget and medium-term fiscal framework are not austere.
Conditional grants, which are used to transfer funding to provinces and municipalities to support defined national government policy objectives, are mainly affected by the cuts. Baseline reductions also affect numerous other areas.
The budget did not resolve the public service and administration wage dispute, which is a serious cause for concern. The SACP is deeply worried by the overall antagonistic attitude adopted in the fiscal framework towards the compensation of public servants. That attitude reflects the International Monetary Fund’s attitude if not commitments made somehow to the Washington-based global loan shark/(s), mashonisa or kamela.
The workers affected include the healthcare professionals who have given their all, the core of our frontline workers, against the Covid-19 pandemic, and police officers, correctional officers, and teachers, to name but a few.
The SACP will engage with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and deepen its work to build broader progressive trade union and wider working-class unity to advance the immediate aims of the working-class, while simultaneously taking care of the future of the entire working-class as a revolutionary movement.
A better future requires the working-class to unite and intensify the struggle for an emancipatory alternative to neoliberalism, its austerity agenda, and capitalist exploitation, on the one hand, and state capture and other forms of corruption, on the other.
The working class needs to advance radical structural economic and broader social transformation and development and, based on this, high rates of inclusive growth. This, supported by an appropriate macroeconomic framework, will go a long way in tackling our debt. Under the macroeconomic framework followed in South Africa thus far, the country has failed to overcome the crises of unemployment, poverty, inequality, and social reproduction.
A much more detailed discussion and engagement within the Alliance is of utmost urgency, to agree on a sustainable fiscal framework and associated annual budgets and medium-term expenditure frameworks that better reflect the priorities agreed to within the Alliance.
Developmental role played the South African Airways
The Politburo commended the South African Airways (SAA) for the developmental role it has played, this time as reflected in its mission from Brussels, Belgium. On Saturday morning, 27 February 2021 SAA touched the ground with the second batch of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 candidate vaccine currently used in an implementation study in South Africa. This rectifies what happened recently when the AstraZeneca Covid-19 candidate vaccine, which has since not been used, was delivered by a foreign state-owned airline. The importance of income to South Africa, including from the aviation air cargo industry, cannot be over emphasised.
The mission carried out by the SAA should serve as the new beginning towards many more aviation and air cargo economic activities with the airline playing a key role. The SACP is strongly of the view that in tackling Covid-19 we should strengthen the role of the state and increasingly make use of our own state institutions and entities. This is important in building state capacity to deal with pandemics in the future and other such challenges.
The SAA mission was led by Chief Pilot Vusi Khumalo, who in 2020 led South Africa’s Covid-19 repatriation mission to Wuhan, China, which was the epicentre of the pandemic at that time.
The SACP reiterates its support for employment equity transformation to dismantle the legacy of colonial–apartheid era job reservation and white privilege, and not only in the aviation industry but also in other industries where black and women workers were prohibited in critical and pivotal professions, skills, and occupations. We must deepen the transformation of South Africa into a completely non-racial and non-sexist society.
The SACP takes this opportunity to reiterate its stance that the government should deepen scientific ties with other countries, including Cuba, China, and Russia in the fight against Covid-19. Above all, the government should use such ties to build domestic vaccines and other pharmaceuticals research and development and productive capacity.
eNCA and the racial connotations of compliance with Covid-19 preventative regulations
The statement issued by the management of the eNCA on Thursday, 25 February 2021 defending the clearly racist bias displayed in its coverage of reactions to the budget is pathetic to say the least.
The television broadcaster did not ask certain white political leaders, notably from the DA and the Freedom Front Plus to wear masks during interviews but insisted on black political leaders to wear masks. Compliance with Covid-19 preventative protocols must be consistent across all racial groups.
The defence of such clearly despicable behaviour by the broadcaster must be condemned in the strongest terms possible by all South Africans who resolutely stand for non-racialism. eNCA must apologise unreservedly instead of defending the indefensible.
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson, SACP, 28 February 2021