Government must decisively intervene on crises facing poor in SA — SACP’s Solly Mapaila
The working class in SA can barely survive, while the rich die of over-eating.
This is according to SA Communist Party leader Solly Mapaila, who has called on government to “tax the rich” to roll out a universal basic income grant.
“While we are crying of inflation, high food prices, high energy costs, high cost of living, the rich only say so in solidarity. They never really feel the pinch,” he said on Sunday.
“The working class can barely survive, barely live. Children die of malnutrition and, therefore, we cannot have a country where people die of hunger, while other people are dying of overeating. Something is not right, it has to be fixed,” said Mapaila.
Mapaila was addressing the inaugural Ruth First annual lecture at the Johannesburg city hall.
He said government should be able to intervene appropriately to the crises facing the country, using its laws and political space to bring about changes.
For instance, the rollout of the basic income grant should be done as a matter of urgency.
“And if we don’t have the money, we must tax the rich,” he said.
The Sunday Times reported last month that the governing ANC says was mulling a “wealth tax”, which would target the top 5% of high net-worth individuals and estates with significant assets, to fund the basic income grant.
Mapaila also called for the extension of the social relief of distress grant, commonly known as the R350 grant and to an improve its implementation.
He said it was odd that after April this year, the payments of that grant fell while inflation went up.
“There’s misnomer in planning and implementation: inflation rises and we lower the implementation of the grant.”
“The grant must be implemented and please, let’s not be talking too much about where the money comes from. There’s too much money in this country.
“This is not populism. Our money is not deployed where it is appropriate,” he said.
He said trillions of SA money owned by oligarchs in the finance sector were deployed all over the world except in SA.
“Money is allowed to leave the borders of this country; to be deployed by people who do not care about the wellbeing of the people of this country, except for their own wellbeing and pockets. This attitude has to change,” he said.
He called on MPs to focus more on finding solutions to the problems facing the country.
“We need accountability of all parliamentarians and a focus on their work. These acute problems; food insecurity as a crisis, energy crisis, crime crisis — all of these require the attention of parliament, not what we have been seeing recently, a ‘defocus’ which seems to also ‘defocus’ the national agenda in this country,” he said.
He said MPs were focusing on removing President Cyril Ramaphosa from office, which does not avert the problems faced by the poor.
“The same with the executive (arm of government), it must have its focus right and make appropriate interventions using the laws of this country.
“We have got enough space politically to make appropriate interventions. It should not take too long for government to respond to problems of people without food, people without water. This requires that executive decision making must also change,” he said.
He said the SACP will support Cosatu’s planned mass action against the high cost of living, and called on all SACP members and structures to participate in the marches scheduled for Wednesday.
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