Help fight Covid-19 by rejecting International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Loans!

 In Member statements

70 organisations reject an IMF or World Bank loan for South Africa

Help fight Covid-19 by rejecting International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Loans!

The past 25 years of both inadequate levels of public expenditure (some as a result of waste, incompetence or corruption) and unimaginative policymaking have resulted in untenable levels of unemployment, inequality, and precarity for the majority of South Africans.

Essential services like healthcare and basic infrastructure, including sanitation, have seen a consistent decline in the quality and degree of provision. Government admits that only 44% of South Africans have a water tap in their houses.  All of this leaves South Africa with no cushion against the Coronavirus outbreak and South Africa is in fact particularly vulnerable to this pandemic – socially and economically.

Under the leadership of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, the Treasury is now preparing the public for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank loan. It is neither required nor desirable.

It is not required because there are several local alternatives for raising the necessary finances to deal with the immediate priorities of the State to fight the pandemic and get the economy out of its current crisis. An IMF or World Bank loan, even if contracted at what appears to be concessionary interest rates, poses great dangers to SA’s economic sovereignty and will permanently lock the country into the very conservative economic policies that have contributed to the current socio-economic problems in South Africa, including the unemployment crisis and growing poverty.

IMF / World Bank conditionality of austerity, monetarism, privatisation, trade liberalisation, financial liberalisation, regressive tax policies, etc. (measures all supported by Mboweni and National Treasury) have been proven by the pandemic to be detrimental to our society and economy. Governments all over the world had begun abandoning austerity even before the Covid-19 pandemic to stimulate their economies. In order to fight Covid-19, they are now implementing massive fiscal stimuli to improve their public health system and resuscitate their collapsing economies.

Governments are going against trade rules to rapidly produce the health equipment and medicines needed to fight the virus. The “free market” is being suppressed so that private hospitals are nationalised in Italy, Spain and other European countries, redirected by government to meet public health needs and private sector factories redirected to produce vital medical equipment.

Thus, we cannot accept the South African Treasury going to the IMF or World Bank for loans because they would be locking our economic policy into a so-called “neo-liberal” and conservative policy prison for generations to come.

This is precisely the economic policy that is currently undermining a strong enough response to the pandemic and working against the measures taken by other government departments to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives. An IMF or World Bank loan would be an easy excuse for National Treasury to continue with its austerity agenda.

Economic policies (including fiscal, industrial, monetary or international) will become immovable and our sovereignty further compromised. Our foreign debt will condemn future generations to a miserable life. South Africa would be unable to change its economic policy course at a time when most countries and a great many prominent mainstream economists have rejected austerity and now strongly support the use of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to address economic challenges.

Further, if these loans are denominated in foreign currency, they are only likely to get increasingly expensive since the South African Rand is expected to continue declining against the U.S. dollar. Already the R/$ exchange rate has fallen from R14 in January to R19 in April – there is no reason to anticipate any bounce-back given the worsening world financial meltdown (and the flight to the alleged ‘quality’ US$ by financiers).

The caution against foreign borrowing must be general, including borrowing from the New Development Bank. We need the currency reserve to pay for medical equipment and for dealing with the emergency situation. Especially since South Africa’s foreign currency reserve has already been depleted by speculative outflows.

Therefore, we call on government to stop further negotiations with these institutions and to explore alternative means of financing the response to the pandemic, addressing the needs of our people in this crisis.

Much greater fiscal resources must be made available, in part through the loosening of monetary policy. The strategies that follow should include:

  • Placing a temporary moratorium on government and SOE foreign debt repayments, and ensuring that any profit and dividend payments due to transnational corporations are made in local currency for local reinvestment;
  • Annulling loans and contracts of State enterprises, agencies and government departments associated with corruption (i.e. odious debts and contracts, including the World Bank’s 2010 US$3.75bn loan to Eskom);
  • Raising capital from government funds under the management of the Public Investment Corporation (Government Employees Pension Fund, Unemployment Insurance Fund, etc);
  • A moratorium on dividend pay-outs by corporations on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), and a redirecting of dividends to the COVID-19 fund in response to crisis;
  • Implementing a financial transaction tax with a progressive base so that major transactions are penalised and normal banking is considered a lifeline human right of all citizens;
  • The SA Reserve Bank substantially reducing interest rates and putting in place measures to prevent speculation on the Rand via exchange and other capital controls;
  • Easing pressure on the balance of payments and reducing opportunities for base erosion and profit shifting by restricting cross border payments of dividends and interest on inter-company loans, particularly to companies in tax havens;
  • With respect to illicit financial flows and corporate profit shifting, prohibit all payments of “sales commissions”, “management fees” and other payments to related parties in tax havens; and
  • Furthermore, the SA Reserve Bank could also directly issue bonds to government.

Finally, it is critical that all financing must be transparent and must not be accompanied by strings attached, conditionalities or proposed structural reforms

Statement Signed by

  1. 360 Degrees – Environmental organisations
  2. Abahlali baseFreedom Park
  3. Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM)
  4. Africa Unite
  5. African Centre for Biodiversity
  6. Alternative Information & Development Centre
  7. Amadiba Crisis Committee
  8. Assembly of the Unemployed
  9. Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)
  10. Baduli baDiepkloof
  11. Botshabelo Unemployment Movement
  12. Centre for Economic Development
  13. Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers union (CSAAWU)
  14. David Fryer, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics and Economic History, Rhodes University.
  15. Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (DEMAWUSA)
  16. Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa
  17. Documentary Filmmakers Association
  18. Economic Justice Network
  19. Extension 24 Unemployment Structure
  20. Extinction Rebellion South Africa
  21. Fighting Inequality Alliance
  22. Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee
  23. Groundwork
  24. Hlalamnandi community movement
  25. Independent Producers Organisation
  26. Inyanda Land Rights Movement
  27. Izwilomphakathi
  28. Keep Left
  29. Khanya College
  30. KZN Subsistence Fisherfolks
  32. Meadowlands Community Forum
  33. Michael Nassen Smith, Assistant Lecturer, UCT Economics and PhD candidate at York University
  34. Middelburg Employable People’s Structure (M.E.P.S)
  35. Mining Environmental Justice Community Network (MEJCON-Mpumalanga Highveld Region)
  36. Multiracial Business and Community Forum (MBCF)
  37. National Labour & Economic Development Institute (Naledi)
  38. National Public Service Workers Union (NPSWU)
  39. Newtown Community Structure
  40. One Voice of All Hawkers Association
  41. Open Khanyisa Movement
  42. Orlando task team
  43. Oxfam South Africa
  44. Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group
  45. Poor Flat Dwellers Association
  46. Progressive Community Movement
  47. Peoples Health Movement – South Africa (PHM-SA)
  48. Public Services International
  49. Publish What You Pay – South Africa
  50. Right2Know
  51. Royal Forum
  52. Rural Womens Assembly
  53. SAMMAC
  54. Sekhukhune Environmental Justice Network
  55. South African Liberated Public-Sector Workers Union (SALIPSWU)
  56. South Durban Environmental Alliance
  57. Southern African Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC)
  58. Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee
  59. Sukuma Sinqobe
  60. Thembelihle Crisis Committee
  61. Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)
  62. Ubunye Bama Hostele
  63. Unemployed People’s Movement
  64. Unemployed United Front (UUF)
  65. VCCR
  66. Voice of the Poor Concerned Residents
  67. Waterberg Environmental Justice forum
  68. Waterberg Women Advocacy Organisation
  69. Wentworth Development Forum
  70. Women in Mining



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