BOKAMOSO | Our Constitution is the most powerful tool we have to effect land reform

The 1913 Land Act dispossessed millions of black South Africans, denying them the right to buy land in most of South Africa or even to farm white-owned land as tenants or sharecroppers. Further legislation caused millions more to be forcibly removed from the land they lived on and owned during Apartheid. These inhumane, immoral laws had devastating socio-economic repercussions, causing and continuing to cause tremendous pain and loss of dignity, and entrenching the deep racial inequality, poverty and resentment that still plagues our society today.
Our Constitution was designed to achieve justice and redress, and to prevent arbitrary, destructive deprivation ever happening again. However, the ANC government’s land reform efforts since 1994 have been an unmitigated failure. The failure rate, depending on the measurement of success, has been calculated as between 73% and 90%.
Last Tuesday, the EFF led a debate in Parliament calling for an amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation of land without compensation. The motion was rejected by MPs of most other parties, including the ANC. Three days later on Friday, President Zuma echoed EFF sentiments in an address to Traditional Leaders calling on “black parties” to unite to enable expropriation without compensation. Fortunately, Zuma does not have the backing of his party or government, though the ANC commonly blames the Constitution for land reform failure.
Land reform is a social, moral and constitutional imperative. It can and should be made to work. There is nothing in the Constitution that limits the government from implementing land reform rapidly and successfully. In fact, our Constitution is the most powerful tool we have for achieving justice and redress in land reform. Changing it will not fix our land reform problems. Instead, it will put South Africans at risk of experiencing the same deprivation and disaster now being suffered in Zimbabwe.
The ANC and the EFF like to scapegoat the Constitution for failed land reform when in fact it is due to failed policy and corruption. It is disingenuous and lazy to blame the Constitution. One major policy downfall is that government has prioritised allocating land over helping beneficiaries to farm it productively, resulting in unproductive land, which helps neither the recipients, nor South Africa at large. The transfer of skills and support into beneficiary communities is absolutely critical to a successful land reform process.
Another is the unintended consequences of state ownership with long-term leases for beneficiaries. Without title to the land, beneficiaries are unable to access the credit they need to farm productively. In many cases leases are not given at all or, worse still, are given to “strategic partners” rather than the beneficiaries themselves, creating avenues for elite enrichment and corruption. With neither title nor lease, there is little to distinguish “beneficiaries” from squatters on state-owned land.
Corruption is the biggest problem of all. Land reform deals often involve inflated prices that enrich the elite. Last month, the Sunday Times reported on a Limpopo farm that Agriculture Minister Gugile Nkwinti lined up for two ANC cronies. The deal cost R130 million of public money, while 31 farm workers went unpaid and a productive farm fell into disrepair. The Mala Mala land claim deal cost taxpayers R1 billion and yet the “beneficiary” community has not seen any benefits and remains in deep poverty.
Government puts much blame on the “willing seller willing buyer” approach. But if government were serious about acquiring land for reform, they could go onto the open market and buy farms for a bargain, without having to go through the arduous land claims process. Currently, arable land in SA is very cheap because of the drought. There is an unprecedented number of commercial farms on the market, especially smaller farms. The fact is that the ANC government lacks the will, competence and integrity to effect successful land reform. It has failed despite the Constitution, not because of it.
Policy uncertainty and the ANC’s radical economic transformation rhetoric is already deterring long-term investment in agriculture. A move to expropriation without compensation will open the way for the kind of uncontrolled, arbitrary land seizures that happened in Zimbabwe in 2000, which has reduced the country from an exporter of grain, to a recipient of food aid for over four million people.
Where the DA governs, we make land reform a priority and it happens faster than anywhere else in South Africa. This is why the DA-led Western Cape has delivered in total over 75 000 title deeds since 2009, more than any other province. This number includes the transfer of title deeds to housing beneficiaries in urban areas – the DA believes that urban land reform is a very important empowerment tool. In national government, we would enact legislation to secure the property rights of those who live on state land, state-owned land reform projects and former homelands. We want poor people to own their own property and not have their property controlled by Traditional Councils or by the state.
And we would buy well-priced arable land on the open market and allocate it transparently. We would target young, black aspirant or emerging farmers and provide both title deeds and appropriate support to enable productive farming, ensuring sustainable funding models. As we have done in the Western Cape, we would provide an on-going package of financial support, technical and managerial assistance as well as invest in supportive infrastructure.
Also as in the Western Cape, we would support farm ownership equity schemes whereby workers share in the ownership of existing, successful commercial farms enabling a progressive transfer of ownership and skills and providing access to markets – an approach which has been found to be far more successful than a wholesale transfer of land to people who may be ill-equipped to farm it successfully.
The DA’s combination of well-considered policy and effective, honest implementation will rapidly expand property ownership and wealth creation for black South Africans. And when they finally have title to their own land, they will be glad that the Constitution protects their right to own it.

The DA is fighting for your grants

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, outside the Department of Social Development following a march calling for the payment of social grants to all 17 million grant recipients. The Leader was joined by DA National Spokesperson, Refiloe Nt’sekhe, DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey, DA Shadow Minister and Deputy of Social Development, Bridget Masango, and Lindy Wilson, DA SCOPA Spokesperson, Tim Brauteseth, DA Gauteng North Regional Chairperson, Fred Nel, and DA Gauteng MPL, Makashule Gana.
 
Fellow South Africans,
The corruption and incompetence of this government have put the monthly grants of 17 million South Africans at risk.
How much more must we take from this ANC government?
How much more damage must they do to our country before they are stopped?
How many of our people must they harm or threaten before we say, as a nation: “Enough. This ends here”?
In less than three weeks’ time, millions of South Africans stand to lose their social grants if an urgent solution to the grant payment crisis is not found.
The President described this as an “inconvenience”. This is not an “inconvenience” for those people who rely on their grants. It is a disaster.
A third of our people depend on grants to survive. 17 million people.
This places a massive responsibility on the shoulders of the government.
The men and women who drafted our Constitution knew that we would grapple with the legacy of Apartheid for years to come. They knew that poverty would continue to affect many people.
And so our Constitution guarantees poor South Africans a safety net.
Our state welfare programme is one of the most crucial functions of our government. For many women, men and children it literally is a matter of life and death.
The R10 billion in social grants that go out to 17 million people each month are often all that stand between them and hunger, sickness and homelessness.
It is our immediate duty to ensure that every single child is cared for, fed, kept healthy and sent to school.
It is our immediate duty to ensure that those who cannot look after themselves – the disabled, the sick, the very young and the very old – are cared for and do not suffer.
When we vote for a government, this is one of the most important tasks we expect them to fulfill.
And from the way the ANC campaigns for elections, they know exactly how important this is.
They make it sound like it is the ANC that gives people their grants. They count on the fact that people are conned into thinking their monthly grant is a gift from the ANC.
This is a lie. Your grant is not a gift from the ANC. Your grant is guaranteed by the Constitution.
The only way you will lose it is if the ANC damages SASSA so much that they cannot even deliver your grant to you. That is what is about to happen.
But the ANC wants you to believe the lie that they give you the grant. This is extremely important to the ANC, because it is all that stands between them and losing an election.
But there is something that is even more important to them than tricking the voters. And that is their greed.
You see, their number one priority is to keep their massive web of power and corruption intact. To keep the right people in the right positions so that their corrupt game of giving and taking – of stealing and stashing – can carry on.
It’s such a full-time job that they can’t even pretend to care anymore.
17 million people’s lives depend on receiving their monthly grants, but this ANC government is too busy playing its crooked games to care.
Bathabile Dlamini had three years to find a solution to distributing these grants. She knew exactly how big this job was, and she knew about the deadline. And she did absolutely nothing.
She knew that, come the 1st of April, 17 million South Africans could stand to lose their only financial lifeline if she didn’t present a solution. And she did absolutely nothing.
She knew that the courts and Treasury and Parliament would have no choice but to ask the same company whose contract was found invalid in 2014, to carry on distributing grants in 2017.
She knew that she was playing a deadly game with the lives of our most vulnerable people, but she just doesn’t care.
You see, Bathabile Dlamini is in Zuma’s corner. And when you’re in Zuma’s corner, there are many things you don’t have to do.
When you’re in Zuma’s corner, you don’t have to account for your actions to Parliament and the people of South Africa.
When you’re in Zuma’s corner, you don’t have to answer difficult questions from the media.
When you’re in Zuma’s corner, you don’t even have to do your job.
Fellow South Africans,
Looking after the poor and the vulnerable may be her job, but Bathabile Dlamini doesn’t care about grant beneficiaries. She has too many other things to worry about.
Things like campaigning. If she’s not busy campaigning for Zuma himself, or for her own position in the ANC Women’s League, then she’s out there campaigning for the president’s ex-wife to take over from him.
In Bathabilie Dlamini’s world, this is what she was elected to do. The poor, the disabled, the sick, the old and the young come second. Number 1 comes first.
The ANC is still counting on selling people the lie that it cares enough to hand out R10 billion in grants every month.
But thanks to Minister Bathabile Dlamini, people now know that this is a lie. The mask has finally slipped. Every day, more and more South Africans see this ANC government for what it really is.
So what more must the ANC do before they are kicked out of government?
They have failed in giving black children an education.
They have failed in creating opportunities for young black South Africans to get ahead in life.
They have failed in keeping our people safe in their communities.
They have captured our state institutions.
They have killed our people in Marikana and Esidimeni.
And now they are gambling with the lives of 17 million vulnerable people.
How much more?
Fellow South Africans,
The ANC wants you to believe that the DA is against social grants. They spread fake stories about how the DA will take away grants once we’re in government.
These are lies. Not only do we fully support the safety net of our social grant system, we even tried to increase the grants with an additional R2.2 billion in the budget.
But the ANC blocked this. The party that says they care about the poor blocked our efforts to send more funds towards social grants. Think about that.
Where the DA governs, people get paid their social grants every month and no one has ever lost their grant. But now it is the ANC who is threatening to take away grants through this crisis.
The DA is fighting to save your grants and make sure they are paid on 1 April. The ANC is fighting to get rich, even if that means you don’t get your grants. That is the simple truth.
The same people who spread these stories about the DA will also try and tell you that we’re exploiting this crisis by speaking out on it.
They try to shut us up by saying we shouldn’t “politicise” an issue like this. But to them I say: Nothing will stop us from doing our job.
This ANC government has turned on the people of South Africa, and it is our job to stand in their way.
Let me be clear on this: If standing up for the people of South Africa and protecting them from a corrupt and uncaring government is uncomfortable for the ANC, then tough luck.
Fellow South Africans,
We are fast running out of time to avert this grants crisis. It is a crisis that is entirely manufactured by the ANC.
The memorandum we are handing over to the Department of Social Development today calls for the following four steps:

  1. Minister Dlamini must resign immediately. She is incompetent, and cannot serve in any position in government.
  1. Government must tell us now whether there is an agreement between SASSA and CPS for the delivery of social grants after 31 March 2017.
  1. If there is such an agreement, Minister Dlamini must let us know what the terms of this agreement are, including the costs and timeframes.
  1. The Minister must appear before a Parliamentary enquiry to explain her actions and that of her department.

We know by now that President Zuma will not hold Bathabile Dlamini or her department accountable. We know that he does not care enough about the lives of ordinary South Africans to act against her.
But there are enough of us who do care.
There are enough ordinary citizens, enough members of the press, enough opposition party members, enough judges, enough NGOs and enough business leaders to hold President Zuma and his ministers to account.
There are enough of us to do what he and his uncaring government can’t and won’t do.
Together we will make sure the poor and the vulnerable in our society are not abandoned.
And together we will get rid of this government that has become the enemy of the people and replace it with one that cares for and serves the people.
Today we say, Dlamini must go, and she must go now.
Ke a leboga. Thank you.

DA calls for lawful consultation on new ICT policy

I have written to Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Leader of Government Business, requesting that a lawful consultation process, in terms of the Electronic Communications Act that solicits written submissions for consideration, be held on controversial aspects of the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper gazetted last October.
I am concerned that the process of developing legislation arising from the National White Paper is irregular in terms of the Electronic Communication Act 2005 and is proceeding with reckless haste.
While much of the White Paper was subjected to lengthy public participation since 2013, its plans for a Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) – the most controversial and potentially destructive aspect – was not subjected to public dialogue.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) has indicated that the first draft of legislation will be presented to Cabinet by the end of March 2017.
The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, has told various public forums that there will be no discussion on the recommendations, only on how they will be implemented.
The Minister’s spokesperson, Mr Siya Qoza, yesterday confirmed this approach in an interview with TechCentral.
The consultations on the White Paper that have taken place with the ICT sector since last October have been informal and not in compliance with the Electronic Communications Act.
My view is that the Minister and his department have cynically participated in these to create the impression of public consultation.
Despite a concerted effort by the network operators, who are most affected by the WOAN, to propose a win-win compromise, there has been no indication that Minister Cwele is prepared to thoroughly engage on these.
I fear that unless a lawful public participation process of some of the White Paper’s key aspects and a credibly researched socio-economic impact assessment is done, much of the legislation will be legally contested because of its unconstitutionality, asset expropriation plans and inadequate processes.
Such is the fundamental opposition from the ICT sector to the contentious aspects of this White Paper that I am concerned that, should we leave the public participation until the parliamentary legislative process, positions on these will become unnecessarily entrenched and hostile.
This means there will be years of vigorous legal battles that will hinder the deployment of leading-edge, affordable communications networks for years, at great cost to economic expansion and job creation.
I have urged Minister Ramaphosa to propose to Cabinet that the implementation of the White Paper initially focus on legislating the recommendations which are urgent, and not contentious – such as the Rapid Deployment Guidelines that were unnecessarily delayed for inclusion into the White Paper – and embark on a thorough public participation process to develop a wireless network strategy that is constitutionally, legally and financially sound.

Cronin’s actions confirm EPWP jobs are only for ANC card carrying members

I will today write to the Deputy Minister of Public Works, Jeremy Cronin, to ask him to explain why it was that the ICC was used for the ANC Caucus meeting this morning, and why they were joined by hundreds of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) participants.
Durban North Ward Councillor, Shaun Riley, of the DA, thought he needed to attend the meeting, but upon arrival was ordered by the eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede, to leave immediately as it was, “an ANC caucus meeting”.
Despite the fact that I have been assured over and again by the Deputy Minister Cronin that the EPWP does not see thousands of work opportunities given only to ANC cadres, what happened in Durban today shows I have been misled.
The Mayor allegedly went on to promise to extend the EPWP contracts for the current participants until the work opportunities became permanent jobs. This, too, flies in the face of every fact we have been told of the Programme in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee by the Deputy Minister.
It is generally accepted that indeed the poorest of the poor are only able to access these job opportunities if they can produce an ANC membership card. Attached is a photograph from the ICC today where the EPWP participants were called to join the ANC caucus.
The Deputy Minister of Public Works must answer to this abuse of the system he purports to be so proud of and try again to convince South Africa that there is no abuse of the programme which is generally viewed as system of largesse dished out by ANC Councillors to loyal cadres.
Unlike in DA-run municipalities, where these job opportunities are determined in a stadium filled with local residents, who have their IDs drawn from a barrel to ‘win’ the job opportunities.

Deputy Minister Dlodlo spends R1.5 million on two luxury Audis in 3 weeks

According to a reply to a DA parliamentary question, Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, spent a shocking R 1.5 million on two cars in the space of 18 days last year.
On 2 June 2016, an Audi A8 3.0 TDI Quatrro Tip-tronic was purchased for R 750 000 and on 20 June 2016, an Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI Tip-tronic was purchased for R 735 700.
It is wasteful expenditure like this that has created the lost generation, the millions of young people that have given up on ever finding work because the ANC would rather spend money on fancy cars than on quality basic education and skills development for our young people.
The DA will not let this shocking abuse of public money stand and call on Deputy Minister Dlodlo to return the cars and opt for a more appropriate one.

OR Tambo heist: DA calls on crime intelligence heads to brief police portfolio committee

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, to request that he summon the national head of crime intelligence as well as the Gauteng provincial head, to brief the committee on what intelligence, if any, they had before the heist that recently happened at OR Tambo, and what steps they are taking to make sure that an intelligence failure on this level does not occur again.
Reports suggest that up to ten heists, with the same modus operandi, have occurred at OR Tambo in the last year. Many of these heists have been carried out by individuals dressed in police uniforms. This is on top of the heist on Tuesday in which a reported R24 million was stolen, a bogus police vehicle was used and the criminals were dressed as police members. This clearly points to a failure in crime intelligence.
Crime intelligence must account for their inability to prevent these incidences and what they are doing to curb these.
In a press conference today, Acting National Police Commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane, was asked about what role crime intelligence played in preventing the heist and whether this could be seen as a failure on their part.
Phahlane’s reply was to acknowledge that crime intelligence is important in preventing and solving crimes.
In light of the previous heist, this response is simply not good enough and it is now time that the Crime Intelligence division account for their inability to prevent airport heists which are apparently on the rise.
Crime intelligence needs to assist in getting the police information about crimes before they happen, in order that police can act on the information and prevent crime.
In the cases where crime intelligence don’t succeed in this, they are still important role players and should assist in gathering information on what happened, as fast as possible.
Crime intelligence is vital, and the failure of crime intelligence in this instance is deplorable.

DA to report homophobic abuse of school girls to the SAHRC

The DA is appalled at the report of homophobic abuse of school girls in the Eastern Cape and will report this abuse to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for full investigation.
On Wednesday 7 March 2017, the principal of Ulwazi High School in Mdantsane, Nomampondomise Kosani, forced 38 teenage girls, aged 14 to 18, to publically tell their parents they are gay.
The girls were then subjected to a barrage of insults and were told to “stop” being gay.
The DA will not stand for any form of discrimination, on any grounds. We stand opposed to all forms of bigotry, including homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia and any other forms of discrimination.
The SAHRC is mandated to address human rights violations and seek effective redress. This incident indicates a clear violation of these children’s human rights and must be investigated fully.
Principal Kosani’s reference to the pupils’ sexual orientation as a “problem” and that the girls were teaching other pupils “bad habits” is deeply concerning.
These comments are grossly out of line with the Bill of Rights which states that “no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
The DA is committed to building a united nation where all people are free to enjoy the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and will continue to fight to ensure these rights are upheld.

Social Grants Crisis: DA will demand the release of the new CPS contract

The DA will write to the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, to demand that the new contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) be made public.
If she will not do so voluntarily, the DA will submit an application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), to force her to.
Reports indicate that the new contract with CPS has already been signed, yet ‘dodging Dlamini’ has taken every opportunity to avoid answering vital questions of clarity on the terms of the new contract.
The ANC and Dlamini have shown time and time again that there will be no accountability for this crisis and that is why the DA is left with no choice but to submit an application in terms of PAIA for the contract, in the interest of openness and transparency.
The current invalid contract between SASSA and CPS will come to an end in just over 3 weeks, on 31 March 2017.
The 17 million South Africans who rely on social grants just to put the bare essentials on the table from day to day, deserve to know if and how their grants will be paid.
Despite the Department of Social Development and SASSA knowing that the current contract was invalid since 2012, they ignored the Constitutional Court, and the DA believes this crisis was manufactured to force a new contract with CPS.
The DA has reason to believe that SASSA’s new contract with CPS will be at an inflated cost that may cost taxpayers billions of rands.
Tomorrow, 10 March 2017, the DA will march, en masse, to the Department of Social Development to show Minister Dlamini, that even if the ANC-government rewards bad behaviour, the DA and South Africans will not.

DA will stand up to Eskom onslaught

The DA notes the media release by Eskom today signalling their intent to claim damages from the DA for defamation and wrongful actions against Eskom and the Group Chief Executive, Matshela Koko.
We have already filed our intention to defend this action and look forward to the opportunity to do so.  The fact that Mr Koko is seeking R20 million from the DA is laughable.
The DA will not be intimidated and will not back down.
This court action will no doubt be funded by the South African taxpayer and therefore the DA will also be submitting parliamentary questions to expose how much this litigation will cost.
Yet again the state is using public funds to defend the elite.
The DA is of the belief that the comments Mr Koko refers to, were fair and made in relation to the Dentons report which is publically acknowledged to allegedly contain damning information on widespread corruption within the State-owned Entity (SOE).
The DA has tried to access the full, uncensored version of the report and have submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to gain access to the report by Dentons into Eskom. Yet, to date, only redacted versions have been released.
The report cost South Africans R27 million and we all deserve to know what the uncensored version contains.
It is hoped that during this process, the full report, will be released.

We need a super committee on inclusive economic growth in Parliament

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier MP, during the debate on the Fiscal Framework 2017.
1. Introduction
Two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, tabled the main budget in this Parliament with both hands tied behind his back and with very little political space, fiscal space and policy space to give hope to the 8.9 million people who do not have jobs, or have given up looking for jobs, and who live without dignity, independence and freedom in South Africa.
2. Main Budget 2017
The minister tabled the fiscal framework, outlining government’s revenue, spending and borrowing projections over the medium term, which envisages economic growth recovering to 2.2%; revenue of R1.66 trillion, or 30.1% of GDP; expenditure of R1.81 trillion, or 32.7% of GDP; and most importantly a budget deficit of R145.8 billion, or -2.6% of GDP, by 2019/20.
2.1 “Fiscal Target”
Whatever the case the central fiscal policy objective of government is to stabilize net loan debt, which is projected to reach R2.67 trillion, or 48.1% of GDP, in 2019/20.
To illustrate the magnitude of net loan debt, consider the fact that a net loan debt of R2.67 trillion is the equivalent of:
• a debt of R47 000 per person in South Africa; or
• a debt of R6.68 billion per Member of Parliament.
Because of the “debt mountain”, debt service costs are now the fastest growing expenditure item on the budget and are projected to reach R197.3 billion in 2019/20.
To illustrate the magnitude of debt service costs, consider that in three years’ time we will spend more on debt service costs than we will spend this year on:
• on Health (R170.8 billion); or
• on Defence, Police and Justice (R190.03 billion); or
• on Higher Education (R68.95 billion); or
• on Social Protection (R164.93 billion).
However, the fact is government has a “slow bleed” and simply cannot seem to stabilize net loan debt.
We were told that in Main Budget 2016 net loan debt was going to stabilize at R2.19 trillion in 2017/18, or at 46.2% of GDP.
Then we were told in Medium Term Budget 2016 that net loan debt was going to stabilize at R2.63 trillion in 2019/20, or at 47.9% of GDP.
And now we are told in Main Budget 2017 that net loan debt is going to stabilize at 48.2% of GDP, in 2020/21.
And that is why we propose that government consider implementing a debt-ceiling in South Africa.
2.2 “Slow Bleed”
The “root cause” of the “slow bleed” is stagnant economic growth, which is projected to average 1.83% between 2017 and 2019, and which is below what is required to stabilize our public finances.
Economic Growth: The economic growth projection is 1.3% for 2017, up from 0.3% in 2016, due to a moderate recovery, though it is insufficient to reduce unemployment.
Revenue: However, the moderate economic recovery is not only insufficient to reduce unemployment, it is also insufficient to generate the required revenue, because to borrow a phrase from former Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, “without economic growth, revenue will not increase. Without revenue growth, expenditure cannot increase”.
The minister penciled in revenue of R1.41 trillion, or 29.8% of GDP, for 2017/18. However, because of lower-than-expected revenue collection, due to stagnant economic growth, and poor tax administration, the minister was forced to announce tax proposals to raise an additional R28 billion in 2017/18.
What the minister chose to emphasize was the formation of a new “super tax bracket”, for personal income tax payers with a taxable income of more than R1.5 million, to be taxed at a new marginal tax rate of 45%, to raise an additional R4.4 billion in 2017/18.
However, what the minister chose not to emphasize was that:
• an additional R12.1 billion would be raised from all personal income tax payers as a result of limited relief for fiscal drag; and
• that an additional R3.2 billion would be raised from the general fuel levy in 2017/18.
What this means is that whether you are rich, and taxed directly, or whether you are poor, and taxed indirectly, the minister will reach into your pocket and help himself to the R28 billion, required to plug the fiscal hole in 2017/18.
That is why it is a pity that government seems to have abandoned the sale of non-strategic assets to raise revenue.
The former minister began a process of selling non-strategic assets, and made a good start by selling government’s stake in Vodacom, which raised R25.4 billion in revenue in 2015/16.
The fact is that substantial revenue could be raised by disposing of non-strategic assets, including the sale of government’s stake in Telkom, which could raise about R14.7 billion.
And that is why we propose that government considers selling non-strategic assets to raise revenue that could, for example, be “ring fenced” to fund infrastructure expenditure.
Expenditure: The minister pencilled in expenditure of R1.56 trillion, or 33.0% of GDP, for 2017/18.
However, because of lower-than-expected revenue the minister announced that the expenditure ceiling would be lowered by R10.2 billion and expenditure of R16.9 billion would be reallocated in 2017/18.
We welcome the R151 billion that will be spent on social grants and the R77.5 billion that will be spent on higher education.
However, new spending pressures loom in the form of the public sector wage bill, which will consume R550.3 billion in 2017/18, and irregular expenditure has skyrocketed, reaching an all-time high of R46 billion in 2015/16.
The Minister of Mineral Resources, Mose(wabenzi) Zwane, became a powerful symbol of the let-them-eat-cake style wasteful expenditure, when days before the budget was presented, it was revealed that he had purchased a new Mercedes Benz E400, at the cost of R1.35 million, in violation of cost containment measures implemented by National Treasury.
We have to get on top of reducing expenditure, but the minister employs a fragmented arsenal of “fiscal tools” to contain spending, including an expenditure ceiling, cost containment measures, procurement reform, and performance and expenditure reviews.
We need to do things differently and implement a Comprehensive Spending Review that would require National Treasury, working together with national departments, provinces, municipalities and state-owned entities, to review the composition of spending, the efficiency of spending, and future spending priorities with a view to reprioritizing expenditure in the medium term between 2017/18 and 2019/20.
And that is why we propose that government considers implementing a Comprehensive Spending Review which has proved successful in Australia (Comprehensive Spending Review 2010), Canada (Strategic Operating Review 2011) and the United Kingdom (Comprehensive Spending Review 2010).
2.2.4 Borrowing: There has been considerable “fiscal slippage” with the fiscal deficit of R149 billion, or 3.1% of GDP, being pushed up by R1.9 billion; and net loan debt of R2.22 trillion, or 47% of GDP, being pushed up by 17.1 billion, in 2017/18.
3. Conclusion
However, in the end the “root cause” of the “slow bleed” and the fact that government is unable to achieve the central fiscal objective and stabilize net loan debt is that private sector investment has collapsed in South Africa.
Who would invest:
• when President Jacob Zuma, ditches his own policy of “inclusive economic growth”, set out in the National Development Plan, and inspired by Trevor Manual, in favour of “radical economic transformation”, inspired by the likes of Hugo Chavez;
• when you have an aspirant Deputy-Minister of Finance, Sifiso Buthelezi, who seems to believe that corporate income tax should be increased to punish the private sector for not investing in South Africa; and
• when you have another aspirant Deputy Minister of Finance, Brian Molefe, who is committed to destroying the private sector, or what he calls, the “monstrous beast” in South Africa.
We cannot stop the “madness”. But we can start doing our jobs.
And that is why will propose that parliament establishes an ad hoc multi-party committee to provide scrutiny and oversight of the implementation of the structural reforms necessary to boost economic growth and create jobs in South Africa.
Because a multiparty ad hoc committee holding governments feet to the fire on the implementation of structural reforms to boost economic growth and create jobs will give hope to the “lost generation”, which includes millions of young people, who do not have jobs, or have given up looking for jobs, in South Africa.
When we look back the minister did not apportion blame for government’s failures, but what he did do was apportion the burden for government’s failures, in the form of a R28 billion tax hike in 2017/18.
The fact is that last year the minister reached into your left pockets and helped himself to R18 billion, and this year the minister reached into your right pockets and helped himself to R28 billion.
And that is all because President Jacob Zuma, and his cronies inside, and outside the ruling party, are reaching into your back pockets and are helping themselves to billions of rands.
That is why, unless the corruption and waste stops in this country, it is not going to be long before people say, “we are prepared to pay our fair share, but this far and no further” and we have a “tax revolt” on our hands in South Africa.