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2018 Media Statements

NEHAWU Response To IMF Policy Queries

Tuesday December 18, 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] notes with concern, the “official queries” that are made by the International Monetary Fund [IMF] representative in South Africa, Mr Montfort Mlachila, on the policies that the democratic government is implementing in fulfilment on its mandate.

Whereas the IMF has in Africa and throughout the global-south foisted and imposed the idea that government must reduce their spending on social services and basic needs, the IMF is back again with the same tired, and abstract Neoliberal mantra - saying the South African government must stop implementing the policy geared at expanding access for the poor and historically oppressed majority to higher education. The IMF regurgitates the Verwoerdian doctrine in a Neoliberal wrap stating that the South African government must merely spend on basic education, which is another way of saying that it must keep the university education elite and predominantly white.

Mlachila betrays his ignorance of the fact that until the 2015-2017 students’ uprisings in higher education, budgetary allocations to universities generally remained stagnant whilst demands for access increased. This was part of the Neoliberal dogma, assimilated by the post-1994 government from the same institutions such as the IMF. He also thinks he is churning out some pearls of wisdom when he reverts to the discredited tool-box of Neoliberalism – amongst others, calling for privatisation of “key network industries” and reduction of the “cost of hiring and firing”.

He doesn’t even try to make his proposals on any empirical grounds, let alone showing some awareness of the long-term socioeconomic destructive effects of such policies and this has even been appreciated by some IMF economists in 2017. What would reducing the cost of hiring and firing workers in a society such as South Africa would look like, for instance in terms of income inequality and labour market stability.

The IMF is obtruding with these formulaic proposals, totally unconcerned and not even trying to respond to the empirical reality disclosed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) last month, in the Global Wage Report 2018/19. In relation to South Africa, this ILO report has found that the country has the highest wage inequality in the world, as assessed in terms of hourly wages amongst 64 countries. In addition, over the past decade - from 2008 to 2017 – this ILO report reveals that South Africa’s real wage growth was 2.4%, which is poor in contrast to other developing G20 countries in which real wage growth fluctuated between 4.9% in 2016 and 4.3% in 2017.

We believe that the IMF has no expertise to make comments on education and other social services, and this is reflected in its track record in Africa, including recently in Greece. It must stay out of the South African democratic policy making process.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or
email: Visit NEHAWU website:

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