South Africa has one of the highest inequalities ratios and this is reflected in the wages that most workers in South Africa take home. The median wage, in 2014 figures, was R3033 per month and then 50% of all workers earned less that the median. The question of a national minimum wage and the level at which such a minimum should be set is therefore one of the most contested policy discussion in South Africa today.
The cost of the PACSA food basket increased by 14.5% (R237) year-on-year, from R1 632.85 in March 2015 to R1 869.39 in March 2016. The impact of the drought on the food baskets of low-income households emerged strongly from November 2015: over the last five months food price inflation increased by 13.4% or R221 (see Figure 1).
Reflecting on the changing nature of our context and who we are and how we act in this context is a regular feature of PACSA’s organisational learning rhythm. In early March we spend two days on such reflection and were joined on the first day by Ariane Gruszczynski and Anke Schünemann from Bread for the World, one of our partner organisations. Two case studies were presented as part of our action-reflection. One case dealt with PACSA’s practise in working with local government and the other case addressed the difficult question of how an NGO should act in spaces designed to surface the voices of community groups.
PACSA staff and members joined a group of concerned citizens who picketted on one of Pietermaritzburg’s main streets calling for greater political accountability on the part of President Zuma and the ANC in the light of the Constitutional Court ruling that the president and parliament had violated the constitution in the Nkandla saga.
PACSA hosted a film festival as part of the Happy Earth Festival which takes place annually at the Pietermaritzburg Botanical Gardens. Now in its 4th year, the Happy Earth Festival focuses on environmental education from eco-systems to experiential learning and the value and complexity of nature. It is an Environmental Education platform for teachers, students and the interested public. About 1,300 people attended the 2 days festival.
Over the past month, in addition to the numerous media engagements, we made presentations on food price affordability at a seminar organised by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape; at the Association for Dietetics in SA conference in Durban; and at the OXFAM SA drought research workshop hosted by the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA) in Pietermaritzburg.
35 young people from the Eastwood suburb in Pietermaritzburg were hosted by Source of Hope Youth Foundation, a PACSA community partner, at a workshop which focussed on youth employability, entrepreneurship and alternatives in the world of work. The objective of the workshop was get a conversation going amongst young people in the Eastwood community on the reality of youth unemployment which stands at over 65% of young people of working age and how young people can assist each other to create their own livelihood and work.
Almut and Bernd Schulteiss bid farewell after 8 years working in PACSA. They were seconded by AGEH-Germany and Misereor and were housed in PACSA. Almut focussed on managing diversity and multicultural education youth events at a national level and supported the emergence of an informal network of Youth Organisations in South Africa from 2011 onwards. This network has since been registered as and NPO under the name of the South African Youth Leaders Network (http://www.sayln.org.za)