Fight Inequality Alliance South Africa Media Statement:
To address the unrest we must challenge our underlying socio-economic crisis!
15 July 2021
The Fight Inequality Alliance notes with great concern the unfolding events in parts of the country. We acknowledge and mourn the lives that have been lost and the livelihoods that have collapsed.
We recognize that the unfolding situation has been triggered by the arrest of former President Mr Jacob Zuma, but that the situation has gone far beyond this. In trying to make sense of the situation, it seems clear that there are different forces at play, including coordinated attacks.
Most importantly, we recognize the inevitability of violence in a society with such high levels of wealth concentration, inequality, and joblessness. Hunger and desperation are rooted in a deep and long-standing socio-economic crisis – manifest in structural unemployment and a state of permanent joblessness. These structural problems are not only as a result of the legacy of apartheid, but it also follows more than two decades of failing to redistribute wealth and combat unparalleled levels of inequality, as a means of providing the better life for all that has been promised.
The most recent budget cuts to public services, social protection, local government, and the discontinuing of the social relief of distress grant will only exacerbate the social tensions we see proliferating throughout our country.
This seems to be at the heart of the social implosion that has jeopardized people’s lives. The threat to life extends beyond the violent unrest, to the growing levels of hunger that we are bound to see, given shops are without groceries or shutdown coupled with increased joblessness, not to mention the detrimental impact the suspension of SASSA payments will have.
Moreover, the riots we see puts our limited but important constitutional democracy at risk. The rights protected in the constitution, while they do not go far enough, were won through important struggles, and lay the basis for struggling further for socio-economic transformation. For these reasons, while we understand that the outrage is fuelled, partly, by these structural problems, it is ultimately the unemployed and the working poor who will suffer – even more.
While we do not condone the violence of the state nor of the riots, it is critical to understand that the eruption of violence is an outcome of decades of neoliberalism which amounts to a gross failure to protect people’s socioeconomic rights and has led to mass unemployment and deep inequalities, eroding the social fabric in our communities, who are now at breaking point.
Now is the time for progressive formations including social movements, trade unions and communities to come together and act as bulwark to the mob protests before it unfolds into even greater ethnic violence and xenophobia. If this were to happen, little would stand in the way of increased militarisation of the South African state, and further undermine any prospects for mobilising for progressive reforms.
As the Fighting Inequality Alliance (FIA) we call on all South Africans to channel our collective energies to challenge the underlying socio-economic crisis in a constructive way. Here, we reiterate our call for the reclaiming and expansion of public services, the implementation of a decent basic income grant (BIG) for all unconditionally and for the protection of all our human rights socio-economic as well as political. In that we support the urgent call for immediate reinstatement of the Social Distress Relief Grant and for it to be increased to at least R585 per person per month, with the urgent move to the full implementation of the Universal Basic Income Guarantee at R1268 per person per month.
Khokhoma Motsi @ +27(0)73 490 7623
General Moyo @ +27(0)71 828 7554
Francina Nkosi @ +27(0)72 877 9972
Raserola Mashamaite @ +27(0)71 308 3303
16 September, 2021