Interest rate hikes are sentencing millions to poverty - Protesters

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Zwelinzima Vavi leading the picket outside the SA Reserve Bank offices in Pretoria. Photo: Rosetta Msimango
Zwelinzima Vavi leading the picket outside the SA Reserve Bank offices in Pretoria. Photo: Rosetta Msimango


Livid workers affiliated with various trade unions staged a picket outside the SA Reserve Bank's offices in Pretoria ahead of the 50-point basis interest rate hike on Thursday.  

SA Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) along with the General Industries Workers Union of SA (GIWUSA) took to the streets to oppose the Reserve Bank's adjustments of interest rates to combat inflation. 

The Reserve Bank monetary policy committee announced a 50-point basis interest rate hike, raising the interest rate to 8.25%. 

SAFTU's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said: 

Government has turned its back on the working class and the poor in favour of the direction of the rich class in our society, so we will not tire. That is the message we are trying to send; we will not run out of steam. We are here to mobilise the unemployed until such a time that their level of consciousness rises to meet the level of the oppressors.

Impact on poor and working class

Vavi conceded that SAFTU was protesting a decision that had already been taken, but argued that many people stood to lose their jobs and houses.  

“Every time they increase the interest rate, they are sentencing thousands if not millions of workers to poverty.” 

Meanwhile, president of Giwusa Mametlwe Sebei told City Press that the constant repo rate increases were aggravating the cost-of-living crisis. 

He said: “Prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages have increased by 14%, from 13.6% in February, in part due to higher-priced imports but also because of the additional costs of electricity and load shedding for producers and retailers.”  

READ: Consumers face more pain as interest rates are hiked again

Sebei added that the interest rate hike was heaping financial distress on 26 million people, who are active in the economy’s formal credit market, and many millions more who must resort to loan sharks to survive.  

“The rate hikes have also destroyed countless jobs, small businesses and investments. Many businesses are falling into insolvency and are retrenching workers due to the punitive costs of debt service,” said Sebei.  

National committee member of the Workers and Socialist Party Ndumiso Ncube said that the party participated in the picket to send a strong message that the working class rejected the interest rate hike. 

READ: Personal Finance | When the cure kills - will higher interest rates do more harm than good?

“The SA Reserve Bank increases its interest rate whenever the US increases theirs and this does not serve South Africans. The Reserve Bank and all other planning parts of the economy should be nationalised and placed under working-class control,” he argued.

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