Your Excellency the President; Honourable Speaker; Honourable Members –
Before I speak to this Budget, allow me to check with the President whether he is able to understand me. Am I speaking clearly enough, Your Excellency? Or is my ‘speech impediment’ causing difficulties?
I ask, because your Premier in KwaZulu-Natal has publicly ridiculed me, telling the Children’s Parliament that the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation is incomprehensible, because he stammers. He even did a lively impersonation, encouraging the children of the Zulu Kingdom to mock the King’s Prime Minister.
And he did this in the presence of my eldest daughter.
What kind of a leader is that? A leader who gets into drunken brawls in public, embarrassing his party, his office and our country.
It pains me that Africa’s oldest liberation movement is discredited by leaders of Premier’s Zikalala’s ilk. I take it personally, because when President Kenneth Kaunda, on behalf the Frontline leaders, asked me to found a membership-based organisation in 1974, Mr Oliver Tambo immediately approved. Thus, from the start, I stated that Inkatha was rooted in the ideals of the ANC laid by its founding fathers in 1912.
The credibility of the ANC, and of Government, is continually being compromised as leaders are implicated in scandals, corruption, abuses of power, and behaviour that tears apart the moral fabric of South Africa. When leaders show no respect and act like hooligans, how can we be surprised when anarchy erupts?
Today, the IFP is called upon to debate the Budget of the Presidency; a budget that yet again has undergone no scrutiny by Parliament, no oversight process and no interrogation by the people who are charged with protecting our country from abuses of power and abuse of State funds.
For the sake of enabling the Presidency to perform its work, the IFP has always supported this budget, despite none of our questions being answered. We have done this on the assumption that the highest office in our land would not act contrary to what is just and right.
But is that assumption still fair? Are we fulfilling our duty if we rubberstamp an unexamined budget in the face of abundant evidence that the rot of wasteful expenditure, mismanagement and corruption is pervasive throughout Government?
Your Excellency; in presenting the Presidency’s Budget last year, you said that ten years had passed since the National Planning Commission had identified the key cause of Government’s failure – the lack of coordination. You then declared that now, a decade later, we had a capable state which is (and I quote), “well-run and well-managed, with clear lines of responsibility and accountability.”
That was June 2021. And then, July happened.
In the aftermath of the worst civil unrest since the dawn of democracy, the investigative Report of the Expert Panel described a Government entirely lacking in coordination; with duplicated reporting lines, overlapping roles, and a plethora of structures that fail to communicate.
It seems essential, then, that this budget should provide the audited performance history of programmes in the Presidency. Yet the budget before us simply states that “no historical data is available”. Targets for future performance are happily given, but past performance is omitted.
Despite concerns being expressed, compensation of employees still consumes close to 62% of the Presidency’s entire budget. R1.1 billion is spent on staff salaries alone. And estimated future expenditure on Administration has increased yet again.
We appreciate the President and Deputy President forfeiting a salary increase last year, in solidarity with the many South Africans who lost their income entirely as a consequence of lockdown. But the President’s salary jump now, from R2.9 million to R4.1 million, is jarring. Particularly when the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers recommended a million Rand less.
In the 3 years prior to lockdown, travel and subsistence within the Executive Support Services was curbed. Now, there is more travel than ever before, perhaps because the e-Cabinet system enables the executive and its support staff to work from anywhere. Predictably, expenditure on computer services has grown by 925%.
Policy and Research Services too has skyrocketing travel costs, as well as a sudden jump in Consultant costs.
Perhaps all this is necessary. Perhaps it is justified. But in the absence of any chance to ask and get answers, the IFP cannot reasonably be expected to tell South Africans that this budget is sound.
Regrettably, therefore, we cannot support it.