News in brief: 1 - 15 November

James Sleight

Finance Minister Godongwana gives # MTBPS2021

Economists and business analysts gave Finance Minister Godongwana’s mid-term budget speech mostly strong marks for holding the line on spending and prioritising deficit reduction. Meaning that civil society was rather unimpressed with what some might call continued austerity measures. While calling the budget “pro-poor.” Organisations such as the Black Sash could find little evidence for this claim. Godongwana has not budgeted for extension of R350 social relief of distress grant beyond March 2022, and expressed no indication of support for a basic income grant, stressing job creation instead. Goddongwana added that a decision about government's interventions to expand the "social security net" would be provided in the February 2022 Budget.



Dismal voter turnout at South Africa’s municipal elections

South Africa’s local elections saw a record low turnout, as only about 26% of eligible voters cast a ballot. While it is easy to explain away these numbers as the result of voter apathy, in fact, this apathy seems to have a structure and perhaps even a message.

The overall support for the major parties was down, especially for the ANC. Smaller parties however, were not able to translate the ANC’s waning support into votes of their own. Instead, it is thought that many longtime supporters of the ANC and DA didn’t vote at all, instead of throwing their support to someone else. Analysts point to low levels of voter trust and “deepening socioeconomic misery.” The youth in particular see decreasing value in participation in politics. In short, after years of failed service delivery, poor schools, load shedding, failing infrastructure, high crime, etc…voters simply stayed home in droves. 

Sources:

Petrol prices approach R20 per litre

The steep November fuel price increase is not only expensive for motorists. They hit everyone hard, but especially the poor, as the price of fuel directly affects the cost of basic necessities such as food, utilities, clothing and commuting. 

Over the last 10 years, petrol prices have increased by 81%. Surprisingly though, the price of crude oil is 30% less than a decade ago. In fact, the weakening Rand and increasing taxes and levies have been the drivers behind this trend. 

Ten years ago the rand/dollar exchange rate hovered around R8 to the USD. If we had the same rate today, the current petrol price would be instead around R16.00 per litre, meaning the price of the weakened currency is approximately R3.50 per litre. Meanwhile, taxes and levies have risen a whopping 126% over that same period, so that now roughly 50% of the price of a litre of petrol is added tax.

This is, by definition, an extremely regressive tax, one that has a far greater impact on those who can least afford it. 

Will load shedding impact matric exams?

Apart from the obvious economic impacts of continued load shedding, there are growing concerns for matriculants who are currently writing their exams. The Department of Basic Education insists however, that load shedding is not an issue as natural light is available when students write their papers. But a matric pupils point out that studying is a challenge at night during the blackouts when they must rely on candles or torches, and using the internet is nearly impossible. 

Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, DA MP Désirée van der Walt said, “Load shedding is an immediate threat to the 2021 NSC examinations and to matric students.”  She said that “not all schools are built in such a way” that allow for sufficient daylight to illuminate exam venues.

Eskom has warned in a summer load shedding forecast for 2021/2022 that its system is likely to remain severely constrained for the near future.

News in brief: 1 - 15 November

Finance Minister Godongwana gives # MTBPS2021; Dismal voter turnout at South Africa’s municipal elections; Petrol prices approach R20 per litre; Will load shedding impact matric exams?

News in brief: 16 – 31 October 2021

Annual consumer price inflation up slightly in September; Massive database of killings by police made public; UN climate change study paints grim picture; Constitutional court confirms warrantless searches in cordoned off areas unconstitutional; Civil society underwhelmed by Government proposal to replace the Covid-19 SRD grant

News in brief: 01 October – 15 October 2021

Stats SA on South Africa’s protected areas; Medical Research Council estimates Covid-19 has claimed nearly a quarter million South African lives; Report Studies pilot Global Basic Income Grant (BIG) projects since 2000; Gender-Based Violence Council Bill to Be Introduced to Parliament

News in brief: 16 September – 30 September 2021

Consumer inflation edges up in August; Komape family wins court battle seven years after their son drowned in a pit toilet; Covid-19 exposes South Africa’s broken food system; Teen pregnancies spike during pandemic

News in brief: 01 September – 15 September 2021

Gauteng Quality of Life survey shows heavy impact of Covid-19 on economy; 12.9 million apply for Covid19 SRD Grant; Bad news for S.A education as we emerge from Lockdown; Stats SA: Economy records fourth consecutive quarter of growth; Masks work and vaccine saves lives, but disinformation stands in the way.

News in brief: 16 – 31 August 2021

Can the government force us to be vaccinated?; Former Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini to be prosecuted for perjury; South African’s unemployment rate now the highest in the world; SA labour market is more favourable to men than women

News in brief: 1 – 15 August 2021

Concern over fate of SA’s children amidst the govt Covid19 response, Coal dependence of SA power industry, SASSA SRD grant application process under strain, Debate over Copyright Amendment Bill

News in brief: 15 – 31 July 2021

Re-instatement of SRD grant; Making 'Ecocide' an international crime; Police raids unfairly targeting poor.

News in brief: 1 – 15 July 2021

Lockdown impact on school dropout rates; Calls for basic income support; Govt spending breakdown

News in brief: 15 – 30 June 2021

Arts sector in crisis; ECD excluded from vaccinations; Shocking youth unemployment statistics; What is Juneteenth?


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