• 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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  • We need unhealthy food warning labels so we know which foods threaten our health
    Shops across South Africa are filled with pre-packaged foods that are processed with high levels of added sugars, salt, and saturated fats. A diet high in sugar, sodium or saturated fat can increase the risk of developing life threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Easy to read food front-of-package warning labels can help consumers quickly, easily, and correctly identify foods high in nutrients of concern, such as excess salt, fat and sugar. The good news is the Department of Health is considering warning labels, and could start the process of implementing them by opening public comment. But already big food companies are trying to lobby against these warning labels [1]. But if enough of us come together, we can help ensure the department puts our health first, not corporate profits. We believe that we, not the food and drinks industry, have the right to decide what we are willing to put in our bodies. The people of South African deserve to know what is in our food. References: [1] https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-05-30-heres-why-you-should-care-about-the-food-industry-lobbying-the-health-department-behind-closed-doors/
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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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  • 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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