29 October 2020 – In his Medium-term budget speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni once again acknowledged the need to embrace a sustainable and just transition but missed the mark on this point by failing to refer to how public finances can enable a shift away from fossil fuels.
In reaction to this speech, Ahmed Mokgopo of 350.org said,
“For too long, the ANC-led government has failed to invest in climate justice. The development of equitable, healthy, and just communities has been too far down the political agenda and this level of inaction in the face of multiple crises, including the climate crisis could further decimate the South African economy. We need the government to demonstrate real commitment towards managing a just transition from fossil fuels.
Adding to our disappointment, minister Mboweni lost an opportunity to link the climate crisis to the economic recovery, where he could have focused on the urgent need to build an inclusive economy underpinned by social ownership that generates more decent, formal, well-paying, protected jobs including in the renewable energy sector. While important, the focus on debt consolidation and infrastructure investments ignore the needs of poor and working-class communities who require more than a 3-month extension to the R350 special unemployment grant. The main victims of South Africa’s ballooning debt remain the least responsible and continue to pay a high price for elite corruption.
What we needed today, was a budget speech that focused on the wellbeing of all who live in South Africa where an appropriate stimulus would usher in a wide range of programs to boost the long-term welfare of households and businesses. A dignified, livable future for all is possible, and in solidarity with the Cry of the Xcluded, we will continue to fight for it.”