Calls for more effort to ensure sustainable financial inclusion
3 September 2019, 7:56 PM
Being a minimum wage earner often means that after feeding one’s family and deducting travel money, there isn’t much left for other needs. Let alone saving for ones’ future…
Every day – every cent is accounted for.
During apartheid, there was no access to skills development, which would have meant a better earning opportunity. This resulted in people often staying in mundane, low-paying jobs without a vision to grow. This continued over generations and it’s resulted in an ongoing debate about financial inclusivity and exclusivity.
The initial concept of financial inclusion referred to the delivery of financial services to low income sectors of society at an affordable cost. The concept seems to be broadened to include the use and access to a full suite of quality financial services, at affordable prices, in a convenient manner.
The World Bank estimates there are approximately two billion adults excluded from the financial sector worldwide.
South Africa is doing well on that front.
At least 90% of South Africans have access to financial products, whether through a bank account or insurance and funeral policies.
Electronic grant payments and the usage of pre-paid cards are cited as some factors that have led to the financial inclusion gains.
Despite this, however, global management company, the Boston Consulting Group, believes policy-makers need to come up with ways to ensure sustainable financial inclusion in the country.
“Many South Africans devote a large and unsustainable share of their disposable income to these life, funeral, and burial polices. In interviews, we discovered that many of these policies would make economic sense only if there were a death in the household every 2.5 years. Other policies were better deals, but rarely were consumers better off having funeral and burial coverage instead of saving their money,” reads the company’s 2017 report on the matter.
The firm says the tools used, currently, to measure inclusion are either too simple or too academic.
“Family prosperity, GDP growth, and reduction of poverty rates are closely linked to financial inclusion, which should feature prominently in building a more promising future for South Africa.”
Watch insert below on other factors perpetuating financial exclusion in SA:
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
29 August 2019, 1:00 PM
This week we focus on the apartheid government’s weapons scandal.
On August 21, 1994, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu expressed disgust over apartheid South Africa’s selling of arms to Rwanda and the Sudan.
Information on the regime’s sale of arms to countries with serious human rights problems, where an influx of weaponry could significantly worsen ongoing abuses, emerged in 1994 in a Human Rights Watch report.
“It is appalling that it is South Africa’s arms which had been used in Rwanda and the Sudan,” said Tutu.
The human rights activist’s remarks came amid gross human rights violations in Sudan, which were still underway five years after a military coup overthrew an elected civilian government.
Rwanda was on the other hand still reeling from a genocide, which killed almost a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in just 100 days.
Weeks after the attacks began, Tutu appealed to the world during a speech at the United Nations Human Rights session in Geneva, Switzerland, for the world not to turn a blind eye to the harrowing developments in Kigali.
Listen to his plea below:
The Rwandan tragedy happened at the same time with South Africa’s transition into democracy.
The apartheid government, through its arms company Armscor, had sold infantry weapons worth millions of rand to the Rwandan government between 1980 and March 1992.
This was despite the knowledge that the weapons were to be used in a genocide that claimed over 800 000 lives between April 7 and July 1994.
Thousands others were raped and tortured. Most of the victims were Tutsis, but Hutus opposed to the genocide also came under attack.
While the ethnic cleansing had long been planned, the shooting down of a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana, who was a Hutu, sparked the violence.
Those behind the rocket attack were never found.
Watch special report on Rwanda below:
It later transpired that the arms industry continued selling weapons and re-arming the defeated Hutu forces in June 1994.
The move was in violation of a May 1994 United Nations embargo and was done behind democratic government’s back.
A leaked unpublished United Nations report fingered former President PW Botha’s last private secretary Willem Ehlers as having been a broker in the deal.
Ehlers however claimed to have been duped into believing the consignment was for the Zairean armed forces.
A Human Rights Watch report also revealed that several planes with arms had flown from South Africa to Zaire in 1995.
While government arms wing, Armscor, denied any involvement – it has hinted to a possibility of the country’s arms ending up in Rwanda. According to the company, the last officially-sanctioned South African arms shipments were in February 1993 while the Hutu government was still in power.
In a bid to breakaway from the apartheid regime’s dark military past, the democratic government in 1997 announced an open weapons trading policy, which would be in line with the country’s foreign policy steeped in respect for human rights, internationalism and adherence to international conventions on nuclear and conventional weapons.
Watch government’s announcement of a new weapons trading policy:
The scandal didn’t dent relations between Mandela’s government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) government.
However, relations over the years have been shaky with Kigali expressing concern over South Africa’s welcoming of dissidents accused of terrorist attacks in Rwanda.
The spat escalated in 2014 when Pretoria expelled three Rwandan diplomats.
Rwanda hit back and expelled six South African diplomats.
Pretoria had been upset over the killing of former Rwandan head of intelligence in a Sandton hotel, Patrick Karegeya, in December 2013.
He was living in exile in Johannesburg at the time of the incident.
Karegeya’s death had been preceded by a 2010 assassination bid on Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Nyamwasa is a former army general and Kagame’s former top aide.
There have been three attempts on his life so far.
Four men were sentenced to eight years in jail for the 2010 attempt on him. Magistrate Stanley Mkhari found three Tanzanians and one Rwandan guilty of a “politically motivated” plot to take out General Nyamwasa. They will be repatriated back to their home countries after serving their sentence.
Nyamwasa and Karegeya were sentenced in absentia in 2011 for threatening state security, among other charges.
They are founder members of the Rwandan National Congress, a political party said to be the biggest threat to Kagame’s rule.
Rwanda wants South Africa to bring the former general home to serve his 24-year-jail term.
Pretoria has, however, rejected the request.
It has largely ignored an appeal from Spain for the same, saying it is considering the motion.
Spain wants Nyamwasa prosecuted for alleged war crimes linked to the 1994 genocide.
Spain is one of a few countries that claim universal jurisdiction.
That’s the right to try the worst crimes, no matter where in the world they occur and even if they don’t involve their own nationals in any way.
While some of Nyamwasa’s alleged victims were Spanish, most were either Rwandan or Congolose.
.Watch discussion on why he fled Rwanda:
Attack on Sisulu
Cracks again appeared in 2018 after Rwandan Deputy Foreign Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe called then International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu a prostitute.
Nduhungirehe was seeing red after Sisulu met with Nyamwasa and revealed he’d expressed willingness hold talks with the Rwandan government.
While no apology or sanction was meted against the Deputy Minister, both countries resolved to normalise relations.
A task team was set up in December 2018 to help achieve this feat.
Watch related video:
The former army general fell out with Kagame after he accused the President of having ordered the attack on Habyarimana’s plane, which ignited the 1994 genocide.
Kagame denies the claim.
Watch related video below:
Reflecting on South Africa’s Constitution
27 August 2019, 5:56 PM
The end of apartheid in South Africa brought about hope and much expectation in a fledgling democracy.
For the first time in years, South Africans of all races could vote and choose their preferred leaders in the country’s first democratic election on 27 April 1994.
The poll was ushered through a 1993 interim Constitution – pending the finalisation of a final document, which then President Nelson Mandela signed into law in 1996.
Seventeen amendments have been made to the document so far, changing South Africa’s social and political landscape.
Watch video below to find out some of the landmark rulings by the Constitutional Court:
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
21 August 2019, 5:07 PM
This week we focus on struggle icon Nelson Mandela’s 100 days in office as South Africa’s first democratic President.
On 18 August 1994, the global statesman delivered his assessment of the Government of National Unity (GNU), saying its goals were on track.
The government included ministers from political parties that garnered at least 10% of the votes in South Africa’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.
The GNU sought to oversee South Africa’s new Constitution and ensure improved social conditions for all South Africans.
Watch related video:
Former Journalist and Political Science Lecturer Professor Phil Mthimkhulu says the administration was riddled by divisions from the onset.
He describes the mood in the country as tense at the time.
“It was quite difficult. When Mandela took over the Presidency there was resistance from some quarters. Even the new Constitution tried to accommodate all various factions but there was still dissatisfaction, particularly among the white groups.”
Hope of a new beginning
Mandela’s speech focused on nation building, forgiveness, redress and healing.
Madiba said his government had created a climate to ensure democracy benefits all South Africans.
“From the outset, the Government of National Unity set itself two interrelated tasks: reconciliation and reconstruction, nation- building and development. This is South Africa’s challenge today. It will remain our challenge for many years to come.”
Professor Mthimkhulu says while the majority of Black South Africans were eager to forgive and forget – most of the White population was skeptical.
He says some of them are still angry.
Mandela had warned of potholes ahead, saying a facade of unity won’t help resolve issues that government still needed to contend with.
“The more these issues are aired and opened up for public debate, the better for the kind of democracy we seek to build. Handled within the bounds dictated by the interests of coherent and effective governance, such debate will definitely enrich our body politic. This applies equally to debate within parties about how to manage this novel experience.”
He urged fiscal discipline, re-organisation of expenditure patterns and careful planning to obtain Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) goals government had set for itself.
The project was aimed at eradicating poverty, disease and ending political violence in parts of the country, which was fuelled by the apartheid government.
“The RDP should, therefore, be understood as an all-encompassing process of transforming society in its totality to ensure a better life for all. It addresses both the principal goals of transformation and ways of managing it.”
The socialist policy was later replaced with a more orthodox free market Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) programme.
Healing the wounds of the past
Mandela also set out the principles which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) would operate under, saying the initiative will help heal the wounds of the past and foster a united nation.
“It will make recommendations on steps to be taken to ensure that such violations never take place again; to build respect for the law; to restore the dignity of victims and their families and provide some degree of reparation,” he said.
Twenty five years on, Professor Mthimkhulu says the wounds of the past are seeping pus.
He says White people needed debriefing before being roped into the new dawn as they had been brainwashed into thinking they were superior.
“So there was a need for some of their leaders who were more enlightened to come together and say listen here is the situation that you should accept.”
Professor Mthimkhulu believes South Africa needs another Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa).
Watch Mandela’s last State of the Nation Address:
1994 Commonwealth Games
Another notable event this week was South Africa’s participation in the Commonwealth Games, which kicked off on August 18th and ended on the 22nd.
The country was welcomed back into the Commonwealth fold after the end of apartheid.
It had last participated in the games in 1958.
Hezekiel Sepeng won a silver medal in the men’s 800m, becoming the first Black athlete from South Africa to win a medal on a global stage.
Watch interview with Sepeng after the historic moment:
South Africa will become the first African country to host the games in Durban in 2020.
Watch related video:
Prisons breed more brazen criminals: Former inmate
20 August 2019, 5:46 PM
High suicide rates and overcrowding are some of the issues plaguing South Africa’s correctional facilities.
Releasing its report on the state of the country’s jails in 2018, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services lamented the high rate of suicide.
The prison oversight body has cited the social phenomenon as the most common type of unnatural death in jail, with Gauteng having the highest statistics.
Late statesman Nelson Mandela once said a measure of a country is in how it treats its prisoners.
As the SABC continues to review 25 years of democracy, producer Lindiwe Mabena spoke to a reformed criminal for a first-hand account on the quality of life in the country’s jails.
Jackie Nhlapho is a former jailbird, who grew up in the Zola section of the Soweto Township, in Johannesburg.
“Crime is what you mostly see in Zola while growing up. It is so bad that it ends up looking like it is not wrong. You become revered. I remember there were older people we saw wearing nice sneakers. They were not working but they always had money. This fascinated my friends and me. And you know as a child you take more what people do than what they say,” he says.
Nhlapho’s life changed while serving a six-year jail term at Boksburg Correctional Centre in 2005.
He says life was so unbearable that he swore never to return.
Nhlapho believes that the country’s prisons breed criminals that are more brazen.
“In jail, you graduate in crime because you meet more experienced criminals. It is where you get ideas to do daring crime.”
The newlywed alleges that community members also contribute to contraband smuggling in jail.
“For instance, Krugersdorp prison is surrounded by houses. Therefore, when I want you to bring me dagga, I will tell which side you should go and throw that plastic there. Then I will ask the cleaning staff to go fetch the parcel for me, it could be dagga, drugs or a gun. Warders also smuggle in drugs and knives.”
Nhlapho converted to Christianity after being transferred to Leeuwkop prison in 2008.
He credits his faith for helping him stay clean and out of trouble.
Nhlapho had been doing drugs for 13 years when he quit.
He was released from prison in 2010.
The newlywed is now an evangelist and helps young people who are addicted to drugs.
Nhlapho is urging authorities to allow them to preach in prison, despite their previous brushes with the law.
“I am aware there are those who pretend to go to jail to preach while they are lying. However, I want people to know that if there is a fake – there is also authenticity. If government can open the door for us to preach even at schools. The Word of God changes a person. We have the solution. When we speak to prisoners, we speak from a place of understanding. We are able to reach them.”