Austerity has often been the prescribed policy to deal with so-called “unsustainable” debt. This is evident in recent budget cuts in South Africa. In this factsheet we argue that these will not help South Africa’s debt situation but will in fact threaten rights realisation. Rather, the government must expand the provision of public goods and services by developing a macroeconomic policy framework to tackle the poverty and inequality crisis. This is in line with the idea that debt sustainability must be considered in broader terms, including accounting for rights.