What the country needs to hear from Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, is that this Budget – which he will outline and table before Parliament on Wednesday – will go beyond the basic needs of South Africans.
Each passing year, without fail, many of the requests made or expectations listed by the private sector, public entities and most importantly, the people of our country, have fallen on deaf ears.
This time around it cannot happen.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) welcomes the economic growth targets set out by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the delivery of the State of our Nation Address (SONA). However, we know that mere talk, without action and political will, means that nothing will change.
When we say that we expect to hear the Finance Minister deliver a ‘balanced budget’, it does not mean merely a costed, debt-servicing balance sheet by Treasury. A balanced budget means that we need to ensure our country’s financial sustainability and sovereignty. We cannot fall prey to countries and banks that are willing to assist us, while exploiting our current debt-ridden economy. We cannot, in effect, exchange parts of our country and control of our political system for buy-outs, and, in doing so, further tarnish our fragile democracy, and deepen the inequality in our economy.
The IFP expects a Budget Speech that will go beyond ensuring that we provide South Africans with the R350 social relief of distress grant. While we welcome the extension of this grant for an additional 12 months, bringing relief to the poorest of our people, we trust that the Minister prioritises other matters, so as to lift people out of poverty.
We warn Treasury and the national government that they cannot simply solve the current crisis by giving people R350. They need to provide good quality basic social services support, comprehensive primary healthcare, economic incubation, quality early childhood development and education, as well as economic opportunities. If not, the current crisis will continue to deepen.
The IFP has always remained steadfast in the belief that we must give people a hand-up – and not a hand-out. Our people want to work but cannot do so because our government is unresponsive to their needs.
We are aware that Minister Godongwana has a difficult task at hand, however he needs to deliver a strong, clear message to South Africans that politicians will work for the people.
This Budget Speech must be a political statement of will. The Budget must reflect the need for greater transparency and clamp down on corruption and supply chain management loopholes. Systems must be strengthened to root out the rot within all spheres of our government and entities, and to ensure adherence to the PFMA and the MFMA.
We have excellent financial systems and regulations in place, however, we must remove the individuals who are operating closed-crony networks that seek to undermine the state and our justice system.
Furthermore, the IFP believes that National Treasury should ensure a fair and equitable distribution of finances to local government. The slice of the cake that goes to local municipalities is not enough to improve the lives of our people, particularly in rural areas.
It is no secret that local government is the sphere of governance that most South Africans engage with daily. It is therefore imperative that we ensure local governments are empowered to deliver beyond their basic mandate of providing water and electricity to residents. Local government is best placed to encourage entrepreneurial activity and to focus on cooperatives, whether they be agricultural, textiles, women-led, or for youth empowerment.
We agree – in principle – with the noble ideal of the Communications and Digital Technologies Minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, to supply a basic 10 GB data allowance to every household in our country. However, if we cannot roll out a properly functioning Census – which happens once in ten years – how will we reach every home to provide data?
It is time to tighten things up and get a grip on our country’s finances. Our country and its people depend on our government’s ability to deliver. The future remains bleak and uncertain if the Finance Minister cannot realise the ‘wish-list’ that President Ramaphosa outlined during SONA.
Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi, MP
IFP Deputy President and Spokesperson on Finance
072 390 6112