PACSA eNewsletter: No.03 2016

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Dear friends

Greetings from PACSA

In this newsletter we share highlights of PACSA life and our work over the past month. We are saddened by the departure of Madalitso Mtine, who after 8 years, move on to another organisation but we also happy to welcome three new staff members to our team. The new staff bring a lot of experience in working towards social change and will surely make important contributions to achieving our mission.

The media work that PACSA has engaged in over the past month shows how the affordability crisis for low-income households in South Africa has reached crisis proportions. Inequality in access to basic goods and services solidify economic, gender and political inequality. A lot of our work is to draw attention to these interconnecting reality but also assisting in imagining ways out of this inequality. One route, amongst a number of options, is a national minimum wage that tracks a living wage. We continue to advance this campaign.
We have the 36th PACSA Annual General Meeting on Saturday, 18 June 2016 at the Msunduzi Museum, from 11.30am to 1pm. We invite all our Durban and Pietermaritzburg readers to join us for this event.

We hope you find the various articles in this newsletter informative. Please feel free to engage with us on any of these issues.


Mervyn Abrahams
PACSA Director
PACSA enewsletter news


After a number of years of staff stability we have now had some changes. At the end of May 2016 we say good-bye to Madalitso Mtine who had been with us for 8 years.  Mada will take a position of Programme Manager at ESSET in Johannesburg. We are very sad to bid farewell to Mada.

Food, Faith and El Nino

Participants at the consultation Food Faith and El Nino
As the El Nino weather pattern challenges southern Africa, what is the role of churches in helping people realize their right to food and livelihood?

Food Justice Collective: Learning to make Jam and Juice from fresh produce

Participants at the Jam and Juice making workshop
What do we do with excess produce from our gardens? The Hlakaniphani Widows Group in Trustfeed invited their peers in the Food Justice Collective to join them for a workshop on making jam and fresh juice from excess produce from their gardens.

Campaign for a National Minimum Wage in South Africa

PACSAs Mervyn Abrahams participate in the live television broadcast
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.

PACSA hosts a film festival at the happy earth festival

Young people who participated in the Film Festival
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.
PACSA enewsletter foodpricebarometer

PACSA monthly food price barometer

March 2016 food price inflation: affordability crisis drives vegetable prices down.

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).
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Price increase affect the poorest of the poor

 “Increasing food prices lead to the poor not paying for municipal services and transport in favour of groceries. This is the outcome of research done by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) on its monthly food price barometer. March statistics show that the food baskets increased to R1 869.39, 58% of R3 200, which is regarded as the typical family income for in Pietermaritzburg.

Spiralling food prices driving South Africans into debt

South Africans are being forced to eat cheaper, less healthy food and get into debt to buy groceries. These are the findings of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action, which has been monitoring food prices since 2006.

Food prices affect our waistline – PACSA

Looming food price hikes could be affecting our waistline more than we think. This is according to director of Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA), Mervin Abrahams who conducts numerous studies into the price of food and its effects on consumers.

Is SA Going Hungry?

The cost of food could rise by a whopping 30% in the next year. Due to severe drought and an unstable exchange rate, the price of all essential products has been steadily escalating. So far, these increases have largely been absorbed by retailers, but consumers are advised to brace themselves for tough times at the tills. How will ordinary South Africans cope when a trip to the supermarket becomes unaffordable?
View the television programme broadcast by Carte Blance, an investigative journalism programme, at

Poor households opt for unhealthy food alternatives to avoid more debt

South Africans are forced to eat cheaper, less healthy food to avoid falling into deeper debt in an effort to put food on the table. Food price monitoring organisation, Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action, released the findings.

The National Minimum Wage in South Africa: Is it likely and how much?

South Africa’s extreme poverty and inequality is well-known and documented. A toxic mix of high unemployment and low wages for the majority of workers perpetuates this crisis. So it would seem that massive job creation and increased wage levels will go a long way to defeating poverty.
Listen to the radio panel discussion between Isobel Frey (SPII), Mervyn Abrahams (PACSA) and Bernd Mueller (ILO) on radio SAFM at
PACSA enewsletter writetous 
170 Hoosen Haffejee Street, 
Pietermaritzburg, 3201
P O Box 2338, Pietermaritzburg,
3200, South Africa