The Black Sash welcomes Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s steady leadership and courage to forge ahead with social spending during this economic crisis. We applaud his recognition that our futures are bound together and that social solidarity is essential if we are to give meaning to our Constitutional commitment to social and economic justice for all.
This is clearly a government who knows where the money should go. The Black Sash welcomes his appropriate budget allocation to the key areas of education, health, housing, water and sanitation, as well as to social grants, infrastructural spending, municipal investment and tax relief for low income earners. However, we are concerned about the knock-on effects of the huge increase in the fuel levy. It will not only disproportionately affect the transport costs of poor families who live far from work, schools and clinics, but also increase the costs of all consumer goods and services.
The Black Sash agrees with the Minister’s statement that “with jobs comes dignity.” But we caution that unless these jobs are decent and sustainable, they will not bring the participation and prosperity he promises. While we await more detail on the Industrial Development Action Plan, we support his intention to get our youth into work and to prioritise environmentally sustainable and labour intensive industries.
It’s clear as we go forward that private-public partnerships are going to become an increasing feature of our economic landscape. In light of the financial benefits that this will bring to corporate South Africa, the Black Sash endorses the Minister’s challenge to them to “balance the pursuit of profit with social justice.” For instance, we call on banks to offer “fee-free” accounts to social grant recipients as well as affordable housing loans to poor working families. We also endorse government’s proposal to strengthen its regulation of the financial sector – a sector which after all, led us into this recession.
We agree with the Minister that corruption is "the ever-present threat to our ambitions" and support his desire to clean up our procurement systems; strengthen supply chain management; and hold perpetrators of tender fraud accountable.