In 1992, looking forward to the advent of a democratic dispensation in South Africa, our Bishops wrote as follows in their pastoral letter A Call to Build a New South Africa:
“Democracy will help to bring political freedom to South Africa, but on its own it cannot solve all our problems. We also need economic justice, that is, a fair distribution of the wealth of the country among all its people. At the moment we have […] a sinful difference between the very rich and the very poor.”
Seven years later the Bishops returned to this theme in Economic Justice in South Africa: A Pastoral Statement,when they noted:
“Our present approach to the way in which we produce and consume goods, and to the distribution of wealth, is not only deeply inequitable, it is also unsustainable. The poor who are with us today, and the generations of people yet to be born, have a right to demand of us that we strive for a more just, a more equitable, and a more sustainable economics.”
South Africa has been widely praised for the way it has managed its economy since democracy was attained in 1994. Inflation has been kept relatively under control; investment has been encouraged; the stock-market is thriving; a new middle-class with access to affluent standards of living has emerged. But on the other hand, millions of poor people remain jobless; millions are still living in squatter-camps and informal settlements and crime rides on the back of poverty and material deprivation.
This project seeks to analyse, and comment on, both the general question of economic justice, as expressed in topics such as Macro-economic Policy and the annual Budget, and the narrower issue of Social Grants, one of the key methods of state intervention on behalf of the poor.
The Sub-themes for this project are:
- Government Job Creation
- The Budget and Macro-economic Policy
- Grant Dependency and Sustainability
- Public Services and Poverty