Equal Education believes that "poverty and unemployment in a country with the highest wealth inequality in the world, and a government that fails to respond to the needs of its people," have caused the current civil unrest in the country.
The current lockdown regulations and pandemic, without receiving enough social relief from the government, has worsened the hardship that South Africans face on a daily basis.
Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) have expressed their concerns about the violence that they have seen in the country.
"We condemn any political opportunism that exploits hunger and suffering and encourages criminality. We equally condemn the police and military using excessive force against our communities and the unleashing of force as the only proposed solution," read the statement.
The organisation believes that everyone in the country should be protected and accountable and responsible leadership should be demanded.
Equal Education stated that the lack and loss of jobs have caused "horrible suffering" for the marginalised in the country and eliminating the COVID-19 relief grant has made matters worse.
"President Cyril Ramaphosa has not recognised the government’s role in creating this social crisis, through the looting of public funds by politicians (even during a pandemic), and through anti-poor budgeting. Our government has cut funding for health, housing, social development and education, to reduce debt in response to the needs of global financial institutions – not the needs of the working poor," stated Equal Education.
As the looting and unrest spread throughout the country, access to grocery stores and hospitals is not possible and small businesses are destroyed.
The organisation stated that as a country "we must stand against this destruction that impacts the food security, health, and livelihoods of large parts of our communities" while guarding against the "excessive use of force and abuse of power that we have already witnessed" during the lockdown.
Equal Education suggested distributing a basic income grant to ensure relief from inequality and poverty, through reprioritising spending, good financial governance, and collecting more money through taxes.
The government could lessen the extreme hardship in the country by:
- Reintroducing and increasing the COVID-19 relief grant in the short-term, and introducing a basic income grant for the long-term;
- Stopping austerity and the cutting of spending on education, health and other social welfare areas;
- Ensuring that every single learner who qualifies for a meal from the National School Nutrition Programme, is able to get food every day, whether they are learning from home or inside the classroom;
- Providing support to schools with enough resources to ensure a safe return for learners and teachers; and
- Being extremely careful in how it brings about calm, protecting the most vulnerable and their livelihoods. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, wom_n and children are especially vulnerable.
The organisation urges the government to take note of these suggestions to help the people of South Africa.