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AIDC Debt Conference Report sheds light on real-life impact of austerity measures!

On February 14th, independent activists, economists, and representatives from trade unions, social movements, civil society, and academic and government institutions met for a two-day conference on public debt and austerity. This conference was hosted in Cape Town ahead of the 2024 national budget speech on 21 February, recognising that austerity will likely continue to be implemented in this coming budget.

We discussed the impacts of austerity and heard testimonies from those directly affected. Reports from health sector workers spoke of an unfolding and deadly catastrophe in the public service due to budget cuts. Thousands of doctors, nurses and teachers remain unemployed while at the same time thousands of vital posts are left vacant due to being unfunded, leading to a breakdown in service and morale.

In addition to this, learners lack dignified schooling infrastructure, while the treasury has stated its intention to make further reductions to basic education, resulting in increasing class sizes. Similarly, we heard from those who have been left without reliable housing, as they wait for a housing backlog in the millions that will not be fulfilled in their lifetime, as well as those who have had to wait in queues for days in order to receive grants that have fallen far behind inflation. Existing patterns of gender inequality are reinforced, increasing the burden on women and girls in particular. It is clear that the impacts of austerity are disastrous. 

The Conference Report summarises the sessions and outcomes of the conference. Read the full report below. 

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