The ANC government wants to be pro-poor, but its actions do not demonstrate that it is pro-poor. The ANC government`s adopted policies are anything but pro-poor. The party relies on the credulity of the hoi polloi.
To begin with, when the ANC decided to negotiate with apartheid government officials, they did it in secret; they did not take the oppressed African people into their confidence. They negotiated behind the backs of other liberation movements. The apartheid officials they were negotiating with in secret had their white constituency on board and called for a whites-only referendum.
According to the condescending attitude and slave mentality of the ANC top brass, the views of the oppressed African people did not matter. Only those of white people mattered. This was the second referendum that whites participated in. There was one in which they chose to become a republic in 1961.
For the past 25 years, Africans have not had a referendum yet the ANC claims theirs is a democracy. Africans were not even involved in drafting South Africa`s elitist constitution.
Because of the mentality and attitude of ANC bigwigs, it clearly demonstrated that they were not the right people to negotiate for the future of the African people. Things that are done in secret have a way of turning out badly. It is a truism that if things are done in secret, the participants have something to hide. Well, what the ANC tried to hide is slowly coming into the open.
The first major blunder was the constitution which kept and maintains the status quo. It was in those secret negotiations that the South African Reserve Bank was made a constitutional body instead of a parliamentary body the way it was founded by whites in 1921 during the Union of South Africa. Right now, when they want to change the mandate of the reserve bank, they have a problem because they made it a constitutional body.
They fail to learn from sages such as Zeph Mothopeng that what they failed to get or was taken from them by force cannot be retrieved through negotiations. Their GEAR policy was neo-liberal which called for cuts in government spending when Africans needed government support after 350 years of oppression. GEAR promoted liberalisation of the economy when the fragile economy needed to be protected through tariffs. The same western countries that forced the ANC government to open up its economy had the most stringent protectionist policies that shielded their economies through subsidies.
The Mandela administration did away with the two tier currency system that protected the rand. The rand is now on a free fall mode. They never asked themselves why their partners in crime had a two tier currency system. They removed exchange controls without having studied what the removal of exchange controls did to countries such as Italy which restored with haste.
The new South African Revenue Services (SARS) Commissioner recently announced a “new” tax regime. But he did nothing. He just tinkered on the edges of the problem. To grab the bull by the horns, he should do away with the regressive taxation in favour of progressive taxation. The handful white families that control South Africa’s economy and the ANC will not allow him to implement progressive taxation.
A regressive tax affects people with low incomes more severely than people with high incomes because it is applied uniformly to all situations, regardless of the taxpayer. Progressive taxation is a tax regime in which people are taxed according to their level of income. High income earners should pay more taxes than low income earners. Most income tax systems employ a progressive schedule that taxes high-income earners at a higher percentage rate than low-income earners, while other types of taxes are uniformly applied.
A regressive tax affects people with low incomes more severely than people with high incomes because it is applied uniformly to all situations, regardless of the taxpayer. While it may be fair in some instances to tax everyone at the same rate, it is seen as unjust in other cases. As such, most income tax systems employ a progressive schedule that taxes high-income earners at a higher percentage rate than low-income earners, while other types of taxes are uniformly applied.
Although the United States has a progressive taxation system when it comes to income tax, meaning higher income earners pay a higher percentage of taxes each year compared to those with a lower income, they do pay certain levies that are considered to be regressive taxes. Some of these include state sales taxes, user fees, and, to some degree, property taxes.
Value added tax in South Africa applies uniformly to all consumers based on what they buy. The tax may be uniform, however lower-income consumers are more affected.
User fees are also regressive. They include toll gates, fees for ID cards and drivers licences. Considering the high rate of crime in South Africa, the South African government also profits from crime in that payment for security companies at homes of individuals is taxed.
Sin taxes are also regressive. Petrol is taxed about twice including sales tax. Poor people rely on transport to go to work and most students also rely on public transport to go to school. There is no subsidy on gasoline and it is priced according to global standards.
How can a government that squeezes every penny from the poor claim to be pro-poor?
By Sam Ditshego