• Treasury did big sugar businesses influence your decision?
    On the 1st of April, the day the HPL increase was to start, Treasury issued a statement postponing the increase [1]. Treasury did not justify this last-second decision, which has raised concerns about what evidence was used to make this decision. Did Treasury choose to put profits before health by agreeing to the demands of the sugar industry? The sugar industry has a conflict of interest when it comes to the sugary drinks tax. That's why it is important Treasury reassure the public that the sugar industry did not influence their decision. The sugar industry has used its power and resources to attack the sugary drinks tax [2]. HEALA has called on Treasury to provide the research and information that was used to make the decision to delay the HPL increase by a year. HEALA has also called on Treasury to confirm whether they engaged with the sugar industry and its associates. If so, in the interest of transparency, Treasury must share meeting minutes and records of engagements and communication with industry. But Treasury has refused to respond to HEALA. The organisation had to resort to submitting a Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) application, but the deadline to respond has come and gone. But if enough of us come together, we can turn up the public pressure on Treasury to be transparent and accountable when it comes to decision-making processes which greatly impact the health of millions of people in South Africa. [1] Media Statement: Release of Revised Draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill. National Treasury. 1 April 2022. [2] Well-conceived sugar tax needs further strengthening to save lives of millions. By Mikateko Mafuyeka and Petronell Kruger for Daily Maverick. 22 September 2022.
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  • Stop closed door meetings between government and big business
    https://youtu.be/nuVHJT_rhgI Imagine your teacher smoking in the classroom. For some of us, this was the reality until new rules were put in place by government in 1993 [6]. But why had government not acted sooner? In their paper published in 2003, Mia Malan and Rosemary Leaver outline the relationship between the biggest tobacco business and government [7] [8]. Government eventually put public health before profits, thanks to the work of health advocates. But big businesses are still using their power to protect their profits at our expense. Researchers have pointed out that big businesses have worked to delay and delegitimize important health policies by using their associations and different strategies [9]. Researchers and civil society groups are not allowed to attend a standing meeting between the National Department of Health and big food businesses [9]. State capture has shown us we have a lot of work to do. But we are making some progress in improving transparency and accountability. Politicians have to declare financial interests [10], and political parties now must disclose who funds them [11]. We need to keep building on this momentum. We can't afford to have a repeat of 2014 where big businesses that make food like polony did not agree with government's proposed hygiene rules and instead wanted to self-regulate [12] [13]. Government should have stood up to those big businesses in 2014 and put the new rules in place anyway. Government has to stand up to big business bullies. Their job is to serve the people, not private interests. References can be found here: https://amandla.mobi/big-business-bullies-references
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  • Minister Patel - reject the EU & US ‘bad deal’ - this deal does not save lives!
    After 17.5 months of dragging their feet, negotiations are currently underway to reach a quick ‘deal’ at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the TRIPS WAIVER proposal - boldly led by South Africa and India since October 2020. MInister Patel is in charge of the negotiations for South Africa. The leaked text of the proposed ‘deal’ shows they are not negotiating a waiver, as originally requested, but rather, conditions and clarifications, which after this much time and deaths, represents a poor compromise. It will be a shame if Minister Patel supports the bad deal contained in the leaked text. He should not. The leaked text represents the interests of the EU and the US and other vested interests. It is a very bad ‘deal’ that does almost nothing to advance the demand for equitable access to vaccines (and other health products) for the majority of the world’s population - and yet the poorest and most marginalised everywhere have suffered the worst effects of the pandemic. The South African Government should REJECT this deal which is related to the ongoing TRIPS Waiver negotiations for fairer access to COVID-19 technologies for everyone, everywhere. We call on organisations and individuals in South Africa to sign onto an ‘Open Letter’ to Minister Patel and the South African Government. You can read and sign the letter here: https://forms.gle/GTT9kmf9nECFfSF86 For more information on the leaked text and reactions to it, please see: https://healthjusticeinitiative.org.za/2022/03/24/trips-waiver-negotiations-leaked-text/
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  • Stand with farm women who demand a wealth tax
    If there was ever a time in South Africa’s history to impose a wealth tax, it is now. Here’s why: 1. In 2021 the South African Revenue Service appointed the first Director of the High Wealth Individuals Unit, tasked with improving the tax compliance of wealthy individuals and assessing the feasibility of a wealth tax. There is also existing research showing the viability of a wealth tax [1] Argentina successfully implemented a once-off wealth tax generating $2.4 billion in 2021 for COVID-19 relief [2]. 2. Internationally, a group of millionaires and billionaires - Patriotic Millionaires, Millionaires for Humanity and Tax me Now - have called for a permanent wealth tax on the richest citizens in every country (2022) [3]. The world is moving in this direction. Sign the petition to help secure a wealth tax in South Africa NOW! https://youtu.be/9UNUchUQUbo [1] A wealth tax for South Africa, Aroop Chatterjee, Leo Czajka and Amory Gethin for Wits University, January 2021. [2] Critics say a wealth tax wouldn't work. Argentina just brought in $2.4 billion with one, Juliana Kaplan for Business Insider, 4 May 2021 [3] 102 millionaires, including Abigail Disney, have signed another letter asking governments around the world to raise their taxes, Huileng Tan for Business Insider, 19 January 2021.
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  • Pay The ECD Relief Funds Now!
    The delays in payment have resulted in hundreds of ECD centres buckling under the strain of Covid-19 and closing down as they cannot afford rent, electricity, nutrition for the children in their care, or staff salaries. Many staff members have had little to no income for almost two years, since the initial nation-wide lockdown in March 2020, and are struggling to put food on their tables and pay for basic needs – they truly require emergency relief funding.
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  • Demand Minister Godongwana increase the Sugary Drinks Tax to 20%
    Greedy companies want to stop the sugary drinks tax to protect their profits. Many of these same companies have a history of dishonesty which it comes to the economic impact of a tax on sugary drinks. The sugar industry has exaggerated their statistics when it comes to the claims they make about the Sugary Drinks Tax causing job losses when research from Trade and Industry Policy Strategies finds otherwise [1]. It’s clear that increasing the Sugary Drinks Tax to 20% could help improve our people's health. We have an opportunity to help achieve this goal. If enough of us come together, we can remind the Minister that he has the public support necessary to increase the Sugary Drinks Tax. [1] SA’s proposed sugar tax: claims about calories & job losses checked: https://africacheck.org/fact-checks/reports/sas-proposed-sugar-tax-claims-about-calories-job-losses-checked
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  • The CCMA must open and stop failing workers #OPENCCMACAMPAIGN
    Right now, workers are more vulnerable than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in job losses, rising cost of living and workers who have been unfairly dismissed and treated need the services of the CCMA to help them get justice. The CCMA must be functioning well so that workers can depend on the institution to fight labour issues. But the CCMA has closed its doors on vulnerable workers and expects workers to refer their case online, which is inaccessible to those who need the most support. The Casual Workers Advice Office (CWAO) has reported that the CCMA is outsourcing things like printing forms to internet cafes around their offices, where there have been incidents of people being charged R40 to refer their case [2]. This is a service the CCMA is supposed to provide for free [3]. The #OpenCCMACampaign is an initiative of 40 organisations. Our aim is to fight to transform the CCMA into an organisation that respects workers and is guided by social justice. The #OpenCCMACampaign will embark on a series of planned actions to challenge planned budget cuts to the CCMA, among other demands. Various actions have taken place throughout the year. We have protested at various CCMA offices [4] and will continue to do so. The CCMA has also threatened the CWAO with legal action for exposing these dodgy operations. We take this action against our partner organisation seriously. But this will not stop us from challenging budget cuts to the CCMA and their own anti-worker actions. Many workers depend on the CCMA to leave the institution’s future in the hands of the bosses and the leaders of the NEDLAC federations. On 30 March, a CCMA statement noted that although R90.1 million has already been deducted from its 2020/21 budget, the projected cuts over three years have been reduced from over R600 million to R301 million. It also confirmed that part-time commissioners would begin to hear cases again, starting from 1 April. None of these changes addresses our core demands for an immediate reversal of the budget cut; for a significant expansion of the CCMA budget; for the full-reopening of the CCMA’s walk-in facilities; for the permanent employment of all part-time commissioners, and for a total transformation of the culture and practices of the institution which have become explicitly anti-worker. We note that the crisis engulfing the CCMA will not be resolved through ‘stakeholder’ meetings and press briefings. We call on all progressive worker organisations to abandon the politics that drives them to look for a ‘seat at the negotiating table’ instead of joining forces with other worker organisations on the ground. [1] http://www.labour.gov.za/employment-and-labour-welcomes-siu-probe [2] https://twitter.com/CWAO_ZA/status/1369599779781611523?s=20 [3] Workers pay for CCMA services that were once free, Masego Mafata and Liezl Human for GroundUp, April 2021 [4] https://twitter.com/CcmaOpen/status/1374674101915283457?s=20
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  • #ThePeopleSay #WakeUpSA: Raising our voices against state capture and corruption
    We have elected leaders and bestowed on them the responsibility to govern, to enable us to achieve a better life for all – not themselves. We, as people of South Africa, have a right to know in whose interests’ decisions – supposedly in "our” name – were and continue to be made. The culture of secrecy and impunity must come to an end if our democracy is to thrive. Transparency and accountability are non-negotiable, as too are the requirements for transformative actions to address the injustices that remain embedded in our social, economic and political systems. Our constitution is revolutionary in its design, but the values and vision that it prescribes can only materialise if embraced by the state through which it is enacted. As people of this country, we all support the value and vision in the Constitution which protects the rights of the people in our country, it is the bedrock of our democracy and foundation of the rule of law. We, the undersigned, support/endorse this open letter to raise our voices in solidarity against state capture and impunity, and to say now is the time for us to be heard. The realities of the current moment cannot be met with silence and complacency. #ThePeopleSay #Wake-Up SA! Civil Society endorsements: Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) Corruption Watch (CW) Dullah Omar Institute (DOI) Equal Education (EE) Freedom Under Law (FUL) Legal Resources Centre (LRC) My Vote Counts (MVC) Open Secrets Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) Section27 (S27) Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) Right2Know (R2K)
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  • Stop Johannesburg's R50 recycling fee that threatens reclaimers' livelihood
    Starting from 1 July, residents living in houses worth more than R350 000 could potentially pay a R50 “recycling fee” if the City of Johannesburg’s proposed waste management tariff is approved. The City said that the R50 additional levy will go to Pikitup to extend a separation at source (S@S) programme which has already been piloted in a few suburbs in Johannesburg. The City places the bill at the feet of “affluent” residents to extend the S@S pilot programme yet provides no research or statistics to support it. Residents are expected to buy into a system they know nothing about despite having very little trust in the government to provide services and use the money for its intended purpose. Not only does this recycling fee raise more questions and concerns for residents, it is a grave threat to the livelihood of reclaimers who depend on the collection of recyclables for their daily living. The extension of this project will decrease reclaimers’ access to bins which will significantly decrease their income. Reclaimers collect between 80 - 90 % of used packaging collected for recycling, saving municipalities millions of rands per year. The contribution of reclaimers cannot be overlooked or underestimated. There are alternatives to the City's proposal. As African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO), we have been piloting our own S@S programme, where we work directly with residents in Brixton and Auckland Park who separate materials for us. Instead of destroying our jobs, Pikitup should expand our pilot across the city. We call on residents to: 1. Sign this petition to stop the recycling fee and protect reclaimers’ jobs 2. Object to the recycling fee by completing this IDP comment form: https://share.hsforms.com/1xa2Cg-qnRxajkHAoDwsivw469tl (deadline is 8 May 2021) 3. Get in contact with ARO on Facebook/ Instagram or email to see how we can develop a resident-reclaimer S@S programme in your area No recycling without reclaimers! Social media: @africanreclaimers Email: africanreclaimers@gmail.com
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  • Bring back + increase R350 SRD grant until it's turned into Basic Income Support
    Time has run out for the R350 SRD grant, but our leaders are feeling the pressure. Finance Minister Mboweni and National Treasury are already under fire for delivering an anti-poor austerity* budget and have ignored our urgent plea to extend the R350 SRD Grant. There is already some support for our demands. One of Parliament's Appropriations Committee members, Mr Qayiso, said the “Rate of unemployment is so high...it has reached an alarming crisis. It [Extending the SRD] is a fair request and must be considered” [1]. Other Members of Parliament also voiced their support [2] after we ensured that members of the committees on finance and appropriations heard directly from those who will be hit hardest by the decision to cut the R350 SRD grant; low-income Black women [3]. Theresa Linden, one of the campaign supporters, told Members of Parliament that “We are struggling, we are still sitting in a lockdown and not getting full salaries...hope Treasury can see that and help the people in South Africa to alleviate the poverty”. Small jobs here and there are not enough to put enough food on the table, and many jobs don’t pay enough. Our leaders can not guarantee good jobs for everyone, but they can guarantee Basic Income Support so our people can live with dignity. It’s been nearly 20 years since the Taylor Commissions Report recommended a Basic Income Grant [4]. We are sick of our leaders being all talk and no action. The R350 SRD grant is a stepping stone to implementing the decades’ overdue Basic Income Support for those aged 18 to 59. Over a quarter of a million people have added their names demanding Basic Income Support is urgently implemented [5]. [1] Standing Committee on Appropriations Public Hearings 12 March 2021 via Parliament of the Republic of South Africa Youtube Channel. [2] Joint Meeting: Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance, 3 March 2021 via Parliament of the Republic of South Africa Youtube Channel. [3] https://fb.watch/4j7AZtEtI5/ [4] Basic Income Grant: Briefing and Economic Feasibility - Social Development, 13 November 2002 [5] https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/basic-income-support-for-aged-18-to-59-now *Austerity refers to strict and harsh decisions and policies that cut social spending that a government can put in place to deal with debt
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  • Call on the North West Provincial Government to release the Mafereka Commission Report
    Help us strengthen the voices of the Bapo Ba Mogale community in their quest to make the findings of the Mafereka Commission report public. We need your support today! Our demand: We call upon the North West premier to release the Mafereka Commission Report. A report that will assist the Bapo Ba Mogale community in establishing a proper governance structure. The Mafareka Commission is one of many commissions of inquiry established by the North West Province to fact-find the existence of a rightful traditional leadership. Commissions of inquiry should advance values of accountability and participatory democracy. In the absence of transparency, affected communities and interested parties are unable to engage the findings of the commission and the purpose of the commission becomes compromised. [1] https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/nw-silence-on-mafereka-report-infuriates-mining-communities-2/ [2] https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/mining-communities-lack-proper-governance-and-support/
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  • Call on SA Government to Back Mass Farmer Strike in India!
    Since the 26th of November 2020, tens of thousands of farmers have camped near the border of New Delhi, the Indian capital. On that day, an alliance of national trade union federations called a nationwide strike which converged with a march on Delhi by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee (AIKSCC), a united front of over 250 farmer organisations. Large parts of the country came to a halt as direct action was undertaken. Protesting farmers were met with unacceptable police brutality - blockades, teargas, baton charges and water cannons - in a bid to prevent them from reaching the centre of Delhi. In South Africa we are all too familiar with the use of brutal police tactics to suppress popular protest and we condemn the use of these tactics against our comrades in India. The striking farmers have declared that they will not return home and the strike will not cease until the agriculture laws are repealed entirely. They will not be moved and we salute their resolve. India’s agriculture industry employs more than half of its population of nearly 1.4 billion people. The country is in the middle of an unprecedented economic decline, experiencing the worst recession in nearly 30 years. Socio-economic inequality is staggering. As South Africans we are also aware of how closely-linked unemployment and socio-economic inequality is to hunger. India’s new agriculture laws were passed despite a lack of consultation with agriculture experts and the leaders of farmer organisations. These laws threaten the acquisition of produce by state-run organisations at a fixed Minimum Support Price. What this means is that small producers have little bargaining power in the free market system and fear that large corporations will take advantage of this, forcing farmers to sell their produce at a lower price than the price which had previously been guaranteed to them by the government. The laws come at a time where there is increasing conflict and disagreement between farmers and the state, on account of the government turning a blind eye to farmers’ demands for better crop prices, additional loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water in times of drought. They are also framed by the horrific numbers of Indian farmers who have been driven to suicide by debt. All of this is happening within the context of carbon capitalism which is putting the future of humanity in jeopardy and exposing the most vulnerable among us to the effects of the climate crisis. In South Africa, in India and across the world, corporations are not the solution – they are part of the problem. The methods of small scale farmers across the world will not only feed the people, but will also build resilience in the face of the climate crisis. The protection of the knowledge and practices of indigenous communities at the forefront of this movement is also paramount. In the face of oppression and systems of exploitation that stretch across borders, it is necessary for us to globalize resistance and join hands to push back against oppressive policies which threaten the lives of the most vulnerable. Amandla! Inquilab Zindabad!
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