Govt must abandon austerity and instead invest in democracy – R2K

ANC govt remains committed to policies that have driven economic stagnation

R2K calls on the government to abandon austerity & instead invest in democracy!

23 February 2021

The Right2Know Campaign rejects the government’s austerity budget set to be delivered tomorrow (24 February) and demands taxation and spending that promote the people’s right to know. 

Successive South African administrations have shown a commitment to conservative economic policies that under-tax the wealthy and corporations while cutting spending on basic services and community infrastructure. 

These neoliberal economic policies have failed to create a conducive environment for democracy and have instead produced growing inequality, unemployment and poverty. The ANC government remains committed to policies that have driven economic stagnation in the vain hope that the private sector will invest their vast savings in the productive economy and somehow wealth will trickle down. 

The Right2Know Campaign is joining the call to reject austerity and deliver a budget that supports the realisation of the values and rights in our constitution. Amongst these rights are the rights to access information, privacy, and free expression. 

We will campaign for a redistributive budget that ends the hardship for the majority and invests in our democracy. A peoples’ budget must include: 

Public funding for the public broadcaster. The SABC needs public funding to meet its mandate of producing quality public interest programming, strop the Boards' unconstitutional Turnaround Plan and limit its increasing dependence on commercial advertising. 

An annual grant of at least R3 million for every community and non-profit radio, TV and print projects to serve the information and expression needs of marginalised communities. 

 Subsidised access to telecoms through free municipal wifi, and free basic airtime and data. Vat related to data and call costs must be scrapped. Everyone has a right to accessible and affordable communications. Everyone should get a free basic amount of airtime and data, in the same way, that we get free basic water and electricity.

Fully subsided Smart Set-Top Boxes for all. The government must ensure that the migration to digital television does not exclude those most marginal in society or entrench the dominance of Naspers/Multichoice. The government must also ensure that the Set-Top Boxes are capable of two-way internet communication.

A fully capacitated office of the Information Regulator. The office of the Information Regulator is not functional. They have not hired all the required staff to fulfil their mandate as a watchdog. This means there’s nobody to issue fines or other penalties when someone fails to protect our personal information. The bureaucratic delay means that our privacy is not being protected.

 Adequate y funding for the CCMA to ensure workers have their rights to meaningful engagement as per the Basic Conditions of Employment Act

The government can afford to invest in democracy if they:

Stop the outflows of capital through profit shifting and tax evasion by the corporate sector;

Increase the tax of corporations and high net worth individuals;

Introduce a tax on corporate telecommunication giants such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon to fund the public’s right to know;

Cut funds to the Department of State Security who have abused public money to spy on citizens.

Issued by Busi Mtabane, Communicator, R2K, 23 February 2021