PACSA eNewsletter: No.07 2015

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Dear Friends

Greetings from PACSA

In this E-Newsletter we share some reflections on our work over the past month. An issue of continuing urgency for us is that South Africa has not transformed its low level wages since 1994 with the implication that the majority of workers are still unable to support their families at a basic level of dignity. Extraordinarily high levels of inflation on electricity, food and transport are compounding the situation with many households having to borrow money just to get through the month. Recent research has shown that for every R100 a household earns; R78 goes to paying off debt, leaving only R22 for the payment of food, municipal services, transport etc.
It is in this context that PACSA found value in holding a roundtable to discuss the possibilities of a national minimum wage to address the historical injustice of wages within the current affordability crisis facing workers. We intend doing further work in this area in the coming months.  We also give an indication of the various events that will form part of the 2015 edition of the PACSA Film and Arts Festival.
This festival, in its 5th year, has become part of the social calendar of Pietermaritzburg and serves as a conscientisation event on social justice issues. We hope that our Pietermaritzburg and Durban readers will join us for some of the festival events. The full programme will be on our website, Facebook and in the media in the next two weeks.
On 16 August we commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the Marikana massacre when police opened fire on mineworker striking for higher wages. 34 miners were killed, and at least 78 were wounded. Three years later and still no police or politician has accepted responsibility or been prosecuted for their role in the massacre. As our feature article we re-print the SACSIS article by Richard Pithouse in which he argues that the “name Marikana and the date 16 August have been carved into our history with the same brutality, blood and resolve that have shaped so many of the events that have brought us to where we are.”


Mervyn Abrahams
PACSA Director
PACSA enewsletter news

Roundtable Discussion on a National Minimum Wage for South Africa

Participants at the roundtable discussion
A roundtable discussion on A National Minimum Wage for South Africa was held on the 14th July 2015 in partnership with the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO). Speakers included Eddie Cottle from the Labour Research Service, Gilard Isaacs and Bandile Ngidi from Wits University.  The speakers provided a historical background of the National Minimum Wage [NMW], debunked much of the arguments against it on the basis of evidence and clarified how it is being currently defined in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), a statutory body that brings together government, organised labour, business and community-based organisations which collaborates on shaping economic policies.

Launching the PACSA photograph exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany

So leben wir
About 35 people gathered on the campus of the Frankfurt University on the 17th July 2015 for the launch of the photograph exhibition ‘So leben wir – Alltag in KwaZulu-Natal.’ This exhibition, compiled by the well-known South African photographer Cedric Nunn, was first exhibited at the 2014 PACSA Film and Arts Festival. The German exhibition is funded by Bread for the World and organised by the German Ecumenical Service on Southern African (KASA.  A number of those present for the launch have been friends of PACSA from the anti-apartheid days or had worked in church circles in South Africa.

2015 Edition of the PACSA Film & Arts Festival

PACSA film Festival
The 2015 edition of the PACSA Film and Arts Festival takes place from Thursday, 24th September to Saturday, 27th September 2015 at the Msunduzi Museum (the old Voortrekker Museum), at 351 John Langibalele Street, Pietermaritzburg.

Young People in dialogue on teen-age pregnancies

Participants in dialogue social factors driving teen age pregnancy.jpg
On the 26 of July 2015 the Source of Hope Youth Foundation conducted a youth dialogue in Eastwood, Pietermaritzburg, to discuss the social factors influencing the increase of teenage pregnancy in their community. According to the Eastwood clinic 146 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the communities of Eastwood and Themba-Elihle in 2014. Participants from three schools, Sobantu High School, Copesville High and Eastwood High, participated in the dialogue.

Young Leaders Workshop

Participants at the Young Leaders Workshop
The by Southern African Association of Youth Clubs-SAAYC conducted a one day workshop on ‘Young Leaders for South Africa’ at PACSA offices recently.  The workshop was attended by 20 young leaders, including two leaders from the Peer Educators Network, a PACSA community-partner.
PACSA enewsletter foodpricebarometer

PACSA Monthly Food Price Barometer June 2015

Davis Tax Committee may have underestimated exposure levels of working class households to VAT on food.

The First Interim Report on Value-Added Tax released by the Davis Tax Committee for the Minister of Finance analyses zero-rating and VAT in isolation of the actual consumption patterns of working class households. As a consequence, the negative impact on inequality of raising VAT levels has been suggested as being very small. This understanding has given greater credence in the public domain to suggest that raising VAT will be less disruptive than increasing Personal Income Tax and Corporate Tax. This June 2015 statement analyses the Davis Report in the context of food price affordability.
PACSA enewsletter upcoming events
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PACSA enewsletter inthemedia

Nersa lauded for averting a ‘pending crisis’ for SA

LOCAL organisations have praised the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) for rejecting Eskom’s proposed 25,3% energy hike, saying they have averted a “pending crisis” for South African households, businesses and the economy. Director of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) Mervyn Abrahams said he was pleasantly surprised by Nersa’s decision to reject the tariff hike.

Cash strapped residents celebrate power price outcome

The National Energy Regulator (Nersa) on Monday turned down Eskom’s application for an additional increase of 12.61% to an already approved 12.69%, which would have hit consumers with a tough-to-take 25.3% increase. In Pietermaritzburg, people breathed a sigh of relief. Northdale resident Shane Naidoo said he was thankful that he did not have to endure...

Eskom hikes create move from maize to rice

The hike in electricity costs is making an impact on the food choices of South African households, a new report shows. The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline, released on Friday, for instance, looked at the results of focus groups held by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action, which revealed that electricity cost increases were changing the eating habits of residents in lower income households.

PACSA takes issue with VAT increase proposal

The Pietermaritzburg Association for Community Social Action (Pacsa) said a proposal to raise VAT will place poor households under more financial pressure. Pacsa director Mervyn Abrahams commented on a report by the Davis Tax Committee that investigated an increase to VAT as a means to broaden the tax net.
PACSA enewsletter feature article

Marikana, Resolve & Resilience



By Richard Pithouse
The massacre on 16 August 2012, and the events that followed it, including the grinding strike that has just been concluded, have inscribed Marikana into our history. The name Marikana and the date 16 August have been carved into our history with the same brutality, blood and resolve that have shaped so many of the events that have brought us to where we are.
PACSA enewsletter writetous 
170 Hoosen Haffejee Street, 
Pietermaritzburg, 3201
P O Box 2338, Pietermaritzburg,
3200, South Africa