In December, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa made commitments of more than R200 billion towards improving education, health, and sanitation at Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg.
Now, in his first full budget speech since becoming minister of finance four months ago, Tito Mboweni announced that the government will indeed be investing more money and resources — in line with what the president pledged in front of more than 60,000 Global Citizens at the festival.
It’s a moment to celebrate for all the Global Citizens who signed up to #BeTheGeneration to end extreme poverty, and joined us in campaigning for improved access to education and sanitation facilities.
Here are some key takeaways from his speech that all Global Citizens should know about:
1. Improving education
Mboweni says the government is going to spend more on education than it does on anything else.
“Over R30 billion is allocated to build new schools and maintain schooling infrastructure,” he announced, emphasising that the government is still committed to providing fully subsidised education and training.
“Over the medium term government will spend R111 billion to ensure that 2.8 million deserving students from poor and working class families obtain their qualifications at universities and TVET colleges,” he said.
2. Water & sanitation
Last year, Global Citizens took more than 86,000 actions to urge the South African government to fund free sanitary pads for people who can’t afford them, and to end the tax on menstrual health products.
The government heard our voice, and the budget for menstrual health and hygiene funding has now doubled.
Meanwhile, in October, the government declared period products tax-free in a brilliant conclusion to the campaign.
Mboweni said: “The amount allocated to accelerate the roll out of free sanitary products for learners from low-income households has increased from R78 million to R157 million.”
The government of South Africa also announced an additional allocation of R2.8 billion on making the transition from deadly pit latrines to safe toilets in 2,400 schools, in August last year.
3. Job creation
Unemployment is one of the most pervasive problems in South Africa; there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around, especially for young people. Youth unemployment is among the highest in the world, at 55%.
Mboweni allocated R19.8 billion to support various industries in driving job creation.
The clothing and textile industry, which supports 35,000 jobs, will receive R600 million. The boost is expected to create 25,000 new jobs between 2019 and 2021.
The Jobs Fund — which has created more than 200,000 jobs since it was launched in 2011 — will receive R1.1 billion in the next three years.
Small and medium-sized businesses make up 91% of formalised business in South Africa, and employ around 60% of the labour force.
The Small Enterprise Development Agency, which supports small businesses, will receive R481.6 million to expand the small business incubation programme. The programme offers business support and management skills to small business owners.
4. Health care
“In health, we need simple, effective interventions,” Mboweni said, adding: “We need more doctors and nurses.”
He said R2.8 billion will be spent on hiring and paying doctors and nurses, and R1 billion would be allocated for medical interns.
“A further R1 billion has been added to increase the wages of community health care workers to R3,500 per month.”
He also announced that R319 million will be used to end malaria, which exists in several provinces and transmitted from around southern Africa by the migrant labour system.
Like land, housing is a challenge in South Africa. Mboweni said the government will continue its focus on supporting people to own their own homes.
“Funding totalling R14.7 billion has been reprioritised to two new conditional grants for informal settlements upgrading,” he said.
This will help people who live in informal settlements in getting access to basic amenities.
He also announced the “Our Help to Buy” subsidy, which will work to help first-time home buyers purchase a home — and as a pilot, the scheme will get R950 million over the next three years.