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stop budget cuts


Ahead of Parliament adopting the Budget tabled by Finance Minister Toto Mboweni, on 10 March 2021 more than 200 civil society organisations, trade unions, social movements and concerned individuals have added their voices to a growing call for Parliament to reject the budget. We believe that this budget is unconstitutional, and in our open letter to members of parliament, we have demanded that our elected representatives overturn the budget. 

The approval of the 2021 Budget by our elected representatives in Parliament will result in the widespread violation of many of the rights enshrined in the Constitution. The Budget proposes deep funding cuts to public services amounting to hundreds of Billions of Rands which will have negative impacts on the majority of people in the country. The real cuts to funding for education, health services, social grants and other critical areas of service delivery are indefensible in light of the extreme levels of inequality, poverty and unemployment we are facing in South Africa.

Over 18 million people who rely on the income support provided by social grants will experience a real decrease in the value of the grants. The paltry increase to the child support grants will not even buy a loaf of bread! Millions of learners in rural and township schools will face rising class sizes due to a lack of teachers because of the reduction in financing for education. The public health system will be weakened by cuts to primary health care services and to public hospitals, while 300 000 people will not receive access to vital antiretroviral medicines due to budget cuts to the HIV/AIDS programme.

The cuts to public services proposed in Budget 2021 break the Constitution’s promise to “improve the quality of life of all.”

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states that the Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of democracy in our country. It requires the state to “heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.” These rights include the right to basic education, the right to health care services, the right to social security and protection, the right to food, the right to water and sanitation, the right to housing, the right to a healthy environment, the right to fair labour practices and the right to redress and equitable access to land.

The 2021 Budget tabled by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on behalf of the executive directly attacks these rights with severe funding cuts totalling -R265 billion over the next three years, including:

X -R67.2 billion to be cut from spending on public health
X -R36.0 billion to be cut from spending on social grants, resulting in a real decrease in income for millions of recipients of the child support grant, disability grant, foster care grant, war verterans grant and the state pension
X Spending -R1 000 less per learner enrolled in public schools in the 2022 academic year compared with the 2020 academic year

The list goes on. In total, government has proposed that “consolidated non-interest spending will contract at an annual real average rate of 5.2%.” In Rand terms, the austerity measures mean that government plans to spend R2 700 less per person on public services in 2022 compared with what it was spending in 2019.

We believe that Budget 2021 fails to uphold the government's obligation to do everything in its power to respect, protect and fulfil our Constitutional rights.

Parliament must therefore send the budget back to the Executive and require it to meet its socio-economic rights obligations and consider alternative ways of managing our public debt.

The cuts to spending on socio-economic rights proposed in Budget 2021 will have severe consequences in a time of unprecedented suffering and have to be stopped.

We, therefore, demand that Parliament rejects this budget!

The open letter is endorsed by over 200 signatories including trade unions, social movements, NGOs and over 125 individuals. If you would like to sign as an organisation or individual, click here: your signature will be added to the list. The full list which continues to be updated can be accessed here.



Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)

Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU)

Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU)

National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU)

National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW)

Public Allied Workers Union of South Africa (PAWUSA)

Public Services International (PSI)

South African Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU)

South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU)

South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU)

Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union (DEMAWUSA)




Johannesburg Informal Traders Platform

Abahlali base Freedom Park


Abahlali baseMjondolo

Land Rights Organisation of South Africa

African Water Commons Collective

Makause Community Development Forum

Alrapark and Mckenziville Housing Committee

Marikana Youth Development Organisation

Amadiba Crisis Committee

Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda

Amandla Port Elizabeth Forum

Progressive Organisations Forum (POF)

Assembly of the Unemployed

Primrose Back Yard Dwellers Forum

Back2Work Campaign

Right2Know Campaign

Black Consciousness Movement United

Robertsham Tenants Association

Botshabelo Unemployed Movement

Rural Women Assembly South Africa

Brinville Unemployment Forum


C19 People's Coalition

Sandvlei united community organization

Concerned Community of Alexandra

Sisonke Revolutionary Movement

Eastern Cape Water Caucus

Socialism from Below

Equal Education

South African Green Revolutionary Council

Extinction Rebellion

Tenants association of Robertsham

Fight Inequality Alliance Gauteng

The Social Process NPC

Fight Inequality Alliance South Africa

Unemployed People's Movement

Free State Rural Women Assembly

United Front

Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee

Waterberg Women Advocacy Organization

Housing Assembly

Westside Park Community Crisis Committee

Inyanda National Land Movement



Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group

Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)

Polisee Space

Black Sash

Rural Health Advocacy Project

Centre for Child Law

Sàm Soya Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (SSCDHR)

Children’s Resource centre


Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC)

Siyakhanyisa HIV/AIDS Support Group

Equal Education Law Centre

South African Youth Business Forum

Ficksburg Community Advice Office

Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

Firstsource Money

Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII)


The Rock of Hope

Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ)

Trade & Industrial Policies Strategies (TIPS)

International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG)

Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)

Masithobelane Support group

Tshebedisano Support Network

National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI)

Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability

Open Secrets

Women on Farms Project

People's Health Movement South Africa

Workers World Media Productions