MPs vow to toyi-toyi over sanitary product taxes

Feminine hygiene products are seen in a pharmacy.  Picture: STEFAN WERMUTH / REUTERS
Feminine hygiene products are seen in a pharmacy.

Parliament’s multi-party women’s caucus says that women‚ irrespective of their financial standing‚ should not be punished through taxation when purchasing sanitary products.

Caucus chairperson Masefele Rosalia Morutua said on Thursday that MPs were serious about the matter‚ and were prepared to protest‚ even toyi-toyi‚ if necessary.

“There has been an outcry in our communities that we cannot ignore‚” she said.

National Treasury told the caucus at a briefing on Wednesday that VAT exemptions on all sanitary products‚ such as sanitary towels and tampons‚ was not an ideal solution. The focus‚ said Treasury‚ should rather be on providing sanitary towels to girls in situations of poverty.

The rich‚ argued treasury‚ could end up benefiting more than the poor if tax were lowered‚ which undermined redistribution and revenue objectives.

Morutua‚ however‚ said the issue was about the dignity of all women‚ irrespective of their age‚ and urged government to follow in the footsteps of other countries which had taken steps to rescind tax on the sale of sanitary products.

President Jacob Zuma said five years ago in his State of the Nation Address that sanitary towels for indigent people should be provided free of charge. MPs asked why sanitary products could not be provided by government in the same way that condoms‚ in different colours and flavours‚ were provided for free.

The caucus asked Treasury to find out why the President’s suggestion was not implemented.




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