On the 1st of April 2018, despite massive resistance, government went ahead and increased the VAT rate to 15%. We have argued in the past that increasing the VAT rate on food was unwise. This media statement using our April 2018 data looks at the month-on-month impact of the VAT hike for households living on low incomes. It is a snap shot as the effect of the VAT hike will take time to run through the value chains however already it signals some worrying trends. Foods subject to VAT make up 54% of the total cost of the PACSA Food Basket. The statement finds that the increase in VAT by 1% resulted in a 6.5% increase in the total VAT levied on the foods subject to VAT on the PACSA Food Basket, moving the total VAT payable to R221.59. The PACSA Food Basket has now reached its highest level of R3 144.02. It has increased by 9% over the past eight months. Hiking the VAT rate has made the affordability crisis deeper and will have a considerable negative impact on households living on low incomes, who are already in a very severe crisis. We call for food to be made a public good; to remove all VAT from food; to increase wages to those of a living wage and to regulate food prices.
The statement from Deputy President Ramaphosa on the finalization of agreements on Labour Stability and a National Minimum Wage [NMW], as well as the radical economic transformation narrative put forward by President Zuma in the State of the Nation Address calls for a response.The NMW is a useful instrument depending on the level at which it is set. If set too low it risks institutionalizing a low wage regime; maintaining our current levels of wage inequality; and entrenching poverty within a very large portion of workers and their families. Setting the NMW at R20 an hour will do exactly that. See full statement here…
Mervyn Abrahams participated in a colloquium on Migration and Xenophobia in Basel, Switzerland, in early December 2015. This colloquium was jointly hosted by KEESA and the Center for African Studies at Basel University. The colloquium explored migration and xenophobic responses in both South Africa and Switzerland.Mervyn shared on PACSA’s principle of “we all belong here” rooted in a real sense of solidarity as imagined at our 2015 Film and Arts Festival. He argued that we need to expand our political imagination beyond the concept the citizenship and the confines of the nation-state to a social configuration that allows all those who live in a place to really ‘belong there.’ See the discussion, The Gap between Pretense and Reality, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUeb_1bUJ0M
PACSA hosted a roundtable discussion on the 26 November focusing on ‘Shifting the socio-economic structures that entrench gender inequality and violence.’ This roundtable which was attended by 26 people from a range of social partners formed part of our 16 Days campaign of Activism against Gender-based violence.The conversation was structured around three questions: whether laws alone will shift gender inequality and violence and women’s experience of the criminal justice system in relation to gender-based violence; the socio-economic, cultural and religious structures and narratives that entrench gender-based violence as ‘normal’ and which reproduce violence and silence the victims; how to shift the socio-economic structures that entrench gender inequality and violence.The picture which emerged from the conversation is one in which perpetrators have easy accessing bail and are often given lenient sentences if arrested by the police. Participants spoke of re- victimisation of victims of gender-based violence by the criminal justice systyem.
A key contribution made by the Ms Bridget Dlamini from the KZN Legislature, herself a person suffering from disability, was that disable women suffer multiple levels of abuse when faced with gender-based violence. Disable women are often stigmatised due to their disability by communities and even the police who pass derogatory remarks when people with disability want to open cases of gender-based violence or sexual abuse.
The role that culture plays in entrenching structural violence was highlighted by Jenny Bell from Justice for Women (JAW) who presented a case-study on their work and the challenges they facing. 52% of KZN land is owned by iNgonyama Trust, which is governed by Amakhosi which traditional structures. Some of these structures have made it impossible for women to access land and other resources in traditional and rural areas. Cultural structures have become harmful to both men and women, where practices like ukuthwala, ukungenwa, ukuqomisa, and others are still practiced. It was noted that rape is on the rise in the province and is becoming a norm.
Focusing on economic violence against women the conversation raised issues such as: the South African economic structures favour men who put more burdens to women. Economic factors in the home is often the source for much contestation and which leads to emotional, physical, verbal, and many more abuses against women and children. Some form of violence is perpertrated by the state such as the removal of street hawkers and waste pickers which consuists mainly of women trying to ends meet.
An outcome of the conversation was that civil society organisations should work together through sharing resources and platforms to enhance their role in eradicating violence against women and children and gender inequality. The socialisation of boys requires new strategies to ensure that there is a new generation with respects women and children. We also need to deepen our understanding of the economic structures that continue to entrench violence against women. One such example is the affordabuility crisis facing lowe-income households. The increasing costs of food, electricity, education and housaing falls mainly on the shoulders of womewn and this is a form of violence where women carry the burden. It was also decided to start an “informal” group of gender activist to continue meeting and informs the practice of CSO’s and government.
Maize meal, potatoes and beef prices all up in October 2015. Over the past month the cost of the PACSA Food Basket increased by R21.39 or 1.3%, bringing the total cost of the basket to R1 638.36 for October 2015. The cost of the PACSA Minimum Nutritional Basket – a basic but nutritious basket of food for a family of five (3 adults and 2 children) rose by R79.41 or 3% from R2 633.93 to R2 713.34 per month.The drivers of food price inflation on the PACSA food baskets were maize meal, potatoes and beef. Between September 2015 and October 2015 the price of maize meal increased by R9.34 or 5.5% per 25kg bag from R170.80 to R180.14. Potatoes increased by R5.16 or 17% per 10kg pocket from R30.50 to R35.66. Beef increased by R5.01 or 10.4% per kg from R48.32 to R53.33. In October 2015 both maize meal and beef experienced their highest prices over the 12 month period from November 2014 to October 2015, with a 25kg bag of maize meal costing R30.82 or 20.6% more than it did a year ago and 1kg of beef costing R3.85 more per kg (an increase of 7.8% per kg). See Figures 1-3 below (note that ‘green’ is the November 2014 price, ‘blue’ is the September 2015 price and ‘red’ is the October 2015 price). Read more here