The research report “International Financial Institutions’ Covid-19 Lending in South Africa: Context, contentions, and policy implications” provides an in-depth analysis of South Africa’s engagement with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) during the Covid-19 pandemic. The research conducted by the IEJ reveals significant concerns regarding transparency, accountability, and the potential impact on democratic processes, national sovereignty, and human rights.
Concerns and Policy Implications
The findings highlight the urgent need for reforms to ensure that South Africa’s economic policies are guided by sovereign, democratic decision-making and remain aligned with constitutional commitments and human rights obligations. It asserts that IFI loans should not undermine the progressive realisation of human rights through unjustified austerity measures or the imposition of policy conditionality.
Key Policy Considerations:
Enhanced Parliamentary Oversight
- Tabling IFI loan agreements, policy conditionality, and project appraisals in Parliament for approval.
- Transparent presentation of projected costs to taxpayers.
- Legislative reforms for strengthened oversight and citizen participation.
Human Rights Impact Assessments
- Conducting comprehensive and transparent assessments prior to entering into agreements.
- Informing decision-makers about potential human rights effects.
- Promoting public awareness and scrutiny of budgetary decisions.
Gender Equality and Inclusion
- Adoption of gender budgeting practices aligned with South Africa’s framework.
- Making gender budget statements, expenditure tagging, impact assessments, and spending reviews publicly available.
- Reducing disparities and promoting gender equality through financing.
Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms
- Reforms for improved oversight, implementation, and reporting on IFI projects.
- Enhancing information disclosure and dissemination systems.
- Ensuring transparency, democratic participation, and environmental sustainability standards.
Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement
- Engaging in meaningful consultation with affected communities, civil society organisations, and trade unions.
- Establishing an independent “engagement group” to facilitate dialogue and address concerns.
Upholding Transparency and Accountability
- Holding IFIs to high standards of consultation, accountability, and information disclosure.
- Rejection of loans lacking meaningful consultation and transparency.
- Detailed accounting of loan agreements on IFIs’ websites.
- Key elements disclosure by the World Bank, including interest rates.
International Financial Institutions’ Covid-19 Lending in South Africa: Context, contentions, and policy implications is published in partnership with OXFAM South Africa.