ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has launched an online campaign against possible tax increases aimed at funding the COVID-19 vaccines rollout in South Africa.
In a statement on Thursday, Mashaba challenged President Cyril Ramaphosa to instead trim his Cabinet, stop the government bailout of South African Airways, cut VIP protection costs and recover money lost to corruption.
The #CutTheFat campaign calls on all South Africans to draw a line in the sand and say ‘this far and no further’ to a government that continues to live expensively while South Africans are suffering,” he said.
Mashaba was responding to National Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane who raised the possibility of tax hikes in an interview earlier this week.
“South Africa will not take us seriously if I can find money for South African Airways but not for vaccines,” Mogajane reportedly said.
He added that besides tax hikes, other options under consideration include widening the budget deficit and reprioritising government spending.
62 Ministers and Deputy Ministers
However, Mashaba said when the government delivers its budget in February, it will do so “with its cabinet of 62 Ministers and Deputy Ministers along with their ministerial residences, staff compliments, VIP bodyguards and private security.”
He added, “Countries around the world are reducing taxes to respond to the economic recessions brought about by this global pandemic. They do this to increase household budgets and increase economic activity which employs more people.
“South Africans are urged to visit www.actionsa.org.za/CutTheFat to register their support to pressure our government to cut its own expenditure to fund the vaccine rollout before considering raising an additional cent in taxes.
“Our message to President Ramaphosa is to show leadership by example. While there are many budget cuts that have to be made, the President should start by showing us a new cabinet that can fit into an average boardroom.”
Besides Mashaba, some economists have warned against tax increases. Speaking to EWN, Mike Schussler cited job losses, lockdown restrictions and load shedding as reasons why the increases would be a bad idea.
“You are essentially taxing a population that has been very constrained and under pressure – huge job losses and huge cutbacks by companies and you are then increasing that at a time when consumers and the economy are struggling. It’s going to put further strain on the economy,” Thabi Leoka added.