As Finance Minister Tito Mboweni puts the final touches to his budget speech, about 200 unemployed people will on Wednesday march to the Cape Town municipal offices as part of their programme of action under the slogan “the cry for the excluded “.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) will also join in the call for a pro-poor budget from the Minister and will picket during the budget speech.
The organiser of the Assembly of the Unemployed, Khokhoma Motsi, says they want to make government aware of their plight, crisis, and demands.
Motsi says, “We have unemployment because we were dispossessed of our land. We demand the right to work. We demand a basic income grant and then we are also saying the budget that the government is giving out every year doesn’t reach the poor of the poorest.”
Retrenched mineworkers want government to resuscitate mines
Retrenched mineworkers and unemployed youth in Marikana in the North West are hoping that Mboweni’s budget speech will give light on how the unemployment will be tackled.
Mining companies have been retrenching in the past few years, with the Rustenburg Chamber of Commerce, estimating that the number of retrenched mine workers stands at 60 000 since 2014.
The mines blame retrenchments on high input costs, increasing electricity prices, load shedding and declining global commodity prices.
Some of the retrenched workers say government must try to resuscitate mines, firms and farms. They also call on Parliament to attend to the issue of contractors.
The Rustenburg Chamber of Commerce’s Pieter Malan gives solutions to how government can mitigate against the effects of retrenchments.
Malan says, “Firstly, we need to acknowledge the crisis of unemployment and joblessness. There needs to be more efforts channelled into that area and that is not just in the formal education system. We are not addressing the number of drop outs from school, those that never even reached matric, we are not skilling them up, to make them employable and so they remain unemployed, but unemployable.”
Free State residents urge budget to cater for municipalities
In the Free State, some residents have urged Mboweni to ensure that his budget caters for municipalities.
Several of the province’s municipalities are in dire financial straits. Four of them have been placed under administration.
Community leader Mzwadile Phupha says the budget should focus on uplifting ailing municipalities.
Phupha says, “Our municipalities have collapsed in the Free State. We don’t have leadership so there can’t be money if there is no leadership. There can’t be money if there is no leadership because the money should be accounted for. The lives of our mothers and fathers in shacks must be uplifted.”
Economists say budget will be the most important
As Mboweni prepares to present his budget in Parliament, some economists say it is will be the most important since South Africa ushered in the democratic era in 1994.
He will have to balance the urgent need to stimulate economic growth with the necessity to cut costs across government.
Some civil society organisations and labour are calling for a pro-poor budget that also protects jobs.