Date: Oct 29, 2020 Type: , Country:

South Africa: State’s budget cuts leave no room for human rights

State’s budget cuts leave no room for human rights. Government must ensure that sufficient resources are left to safeguard human rights immediately and beyond the pandemic.

In response to yesterday’s Medium-term Budget Policy Statement, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“Amnesty International is extremely concerned at the diverting of funds from key areas that strive to safeguard human rights. Budget cuts will see approximately R2.1 billion diverted from the Department of Basic Education, R1 million from women’s maternal and reproductive health, R220 million from health facilities infrastructure, R133 million from the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and R416 million from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. It is particularly concerning as cuts across national departments amounting to approximately about R7 billion will be allocated to the South African Airways business rescue plan. 

What’s more is that R275.926 million is to be transferred from the Department of  Basic Education to the South African Airways business rescue plan. 

This is alarming as our report, released in February 2020, highlights that, out of 23,471 public schools, 4,358 schools still had only pit latrines for sanitation and 37 schools had no sanitation facilities whatsoever. Our field research found some schools lack both decent sanitation and a reliable water supply. At a time when access to water and sanitation is of utmost importance to stay healthy, the lack of this essential provision in schools is deeply worrying.

Whilst we acknowledge the concerning financial situation the country finds itself in and the need to re-prioritise funds, we urge government to ensure that sufficient resources are left to guarantee that all human rights are upheld immediately and beyond the pandemic. Budget cuts should not be at the expense of upholding citizens’ rights. Furthermore, the state needs to ensure that money is earmarked for the upliftment of communities and not lost through illegal and unconstitutional means, such as money leaking from the state through various means, including tender fraud, corruption etc” 

BACKGROUND

The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement is a government policy statement which communicates the policy goals of government and provides a macroeconomic context, the foundation for a three year budget forecast and the context in which the annual budget speech in February will be presented.

Amnesty International South Africa launched its report and campaign Broken and Unequal: The State of Education in South Africa on 11 February 2020.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REQUEST AN INTERVIEW, PLEASE CONTACT:

Nabeelah Khan, Media and Communications Officer, Amnesty International South Africa:

+27 (0) 64 890 9224; nabeelah.khan@amnesty.org.za