The South African government pays dedicated care workers less than anyone else in its employ - as little as R500 (US$39) a month. These include social workers, home-based care providers as well as counsellors who help victims of domestic violence and child abuse. This is despite the fact that they do some of the most important jobs. They deserve more respect and better rewards.
In his 2017 State of the Nation Adress President Jacob Zuma proposed a range of actions intended to accelerate radical economic transformation. None recognised the parlous state of South Africa’s care economy - those aspects of human activity (both paid and unpaid) devoted to the care of the current and future labour force, as well as the entire population. Yet funding decisions flowing from economic policies were among the reasons cited for the deaths in 2016 of 94 mentally ill patients in the country’s richest province, Gauteng.
As the country gears up the national budget speech on February 22, will Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan do any better at recognising this forgotten economy?