As a young, black, working class woman in the world’s most unequal country, Mahayle describes the daily realities of neoliberalism for many, and how the most marginalised will lead the way to creating peoples’ alternatives

By: Fight Inequality

Mahayle is giving testimony on Wednesday 11 October, 09:30-15:30 Casablanca Time at the Peoples’ Alternative Global Tribunal on the IMF and World Bank in Marrakech, Morocco. Watch live via Facebook.

As I begin…….I want to start by saluting leaders and activists of the people's movement from different parts of the world who braved all odds to gather here in Marrakech and share the people's alternatives against the mainstream MESSAGE of  two of the key institutions that govern global economic policy, and all those who attempt to strip us of our agency, our humanity, our cultures, and resources.

Today, I carry the stories of not just myself to this place but of my sisters, friends, and communities and I am grateful that they have entrusted me with them. 

How have sharpening inequalities affected my life, and the lives of many others in my community and country?

I do not take for granted my disposability as someone who sits at the intersection of being black, woman, and working class. There are many things that I am stripped of because of these identities.

You cannot afford to be sick, I have a condition that on its own took years to diagnose only after I went to a private facility, that I could not afford, and still cannot afford because healthcare is expensive and therefore exclusionary. Then there is uVuyokazi who was refused birth control and later found out she was pregnant. Voyokazi was scared to go to the hospital because she knew of other women whom nurses had sent away without help. After hours of laboring at home, she finally went to the hospital and found many pregnant women waiting for days to be assisted, some lying in corridors waiting for urgent surgery. So I wonder if equal health is a fundamental right that should be available to all individuals regardless of their class, race, or ethnicity then why is it that so many of us do not have access to it?

Why must those of us living in rural areas walk so far to neighbouring villages to get health services? In parts of Limpopo, you have about 35 villages that are covered by one clinic, and amongst those villages, specific villages are served on certain days. Listen, you cannot afford to get sick on a Monday, the doctor will only be available on Wednesday! If you show up on a day that is not designated for your village, you will not be treated. 

Many of us are rape victims, victims, and survivors of gender-based violence or know of someone who is. Understand this - violence against women does not happen by itself. It is influenced by a complex set of interconnected issues including poverty, patriarchy, inequality, high rates of unemployment.

We are unemployed, and those of us who are employed cannot survive because of the rising cost of living. Many of us have to make hard choices between eating, safe drinking water, transport, health, work, and education.  Many of us live under the poverty line and sleep in shacks that can be blown up anytime by the unpredictable weather caused by climate change, yet we live amongst a 10 % that owns more than 80 % of the wealth. The rich in South Africa are busy catching up on who is the wealthiest, while many of us can barely afford bread.

A part of me can almost hear you softly but clearly saying, "But Mahayle, you're speaking of Doom," and yes, it is doom! It's depressing, but it's a reality for many of my people, and it's only going to get worse unless we do something about it.


The role that the IMF and World Bank have played in these systemic injustices

I believe we arrived here on purpose, that the growing inequalities we are witnessing are a result of “neoliberal" policies  —a word that doesn't sit well on my tongue—was influenced by the IMF in my country; this relationship dates back to the apartheid regime and has persisted post-democracy even in the absence of lending until recently.

South Africa has stayed committed to austerity policies recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and these measures mostly target the poorest communities, and hence women! Among them are the most vulnerable (single mothers, young women, elderly women, migrant women, women from ethnic minorities, women who reside in rural areas or have been victims of violence, unemployed women, and so on).


My solutions and demands for an alternative global economic system:

It has always been us the marginalised leading & participating in revolutionary moments such as this one. For our collective emancipation! While others stand aside and contribute little beyond pledges to “do better.” Or better yet sit in high conference venues talking about Our Poverty! Or creating a "Sustainable Planet" while being the highest contributor to the Climate Crisis and many injustices. I mean, they have created the problems and they are now selling solutions to us. When are they holding themselves accountable? When are they taxing the rich? These are the only questions to whos answers we demand, because there is no solution that will come from this institutions and the wealthy. 
With that said, and in concluding, our key demands in South Africa are as follows:

  1. Build a people's economy with people's alternatives.
  2. Social services to communities to be funded and no to austerity! 
  3. The implementation of a Basic Income Grant for the Poor of R1500 per month. $77.63 (USD) 
  4. Tax the Rich and the corporations
  5. Care work to be recognised and paid
  6. Job creation at a living wage.