KZN budget debate dominated by opposition calls for Zuma to go

2016-04-13 10:24
Belinda Scott

Belinda Scott (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Finance MEC Belinda Scott on Wednesday warned that continuous attacks on President Jacob Zuma can only do one thing — bring down the country.

Scott, responding to questions on the general budget debate at the legislature yesterday, had to deviate from the discussion as the opposition questioned the president’s decisions.

Zuma’s name dominated the proceedings, with ANC MPLs declaring their support for him while opposition MPLs called for his head.

Ever since the Constitutional Court ruling found that Zuma had violated the Constitution in his handling of the Nkandla saga, and allegations by some former and current cabinet members that the Gupta family influenced cabinet posts, calls for the ANC to recall Zuma have been coming from different sectors of society.

With the economic forecast predicted to be gloomy in the years ahead, DA MPL Francois Rogers blamed “Zumanomics” for the country’s financial woes.

“If one takes a closer look at the provincial budget we are somewhat at the mercy of global and local markets which to a degree we can predict and analyse.

“However, when we have a president who, at a whim, decides to hire and fire ministers in his cabinet, particularly that of finance, then we enter the realm of the absurd.

“When President Zuma recalled Minster Nene and replaced him with the little known [Des] Van Rooyen, the move caused massive instability in the markets sending our national currency into a tailspin,” Rogers said.

However ANC MPL Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the president could only be removed by the voters who had voted him as the president of the country.

“Democracy gives you the opportunity to vote for your preferred candidate. If you want to remove someone from power, you must go to the polls. We will not give it to you on a platter,” she said.

Mthenjwa Zondi, another ANC MPL, said the Nkandla issue was not an inhibiting factor in KwaZulu-Natal, saying the province continues to deliver services.


SA government spends more than it takes in.

This revelation was made by MEC Scott yesterday while responding to NFP MPL Erickson Zungu who had raised concerns over debt in the country.

“We are sitting at a situation with a structural deficit which means government pays more than what it earns. We are paying a huge amount of money to service that debt. We have to close that structural deficit,” she said.

Scott said the cost-cutting measures she had announced during her budget speech were “not a lip service”.

Budget cuts will amount to over R2,9 billion in the next three financial years, but Scott insisted that service delivery will not be affected.

SCOTT was showered with praise for her leadership by political parties yesterday.

Finance portfolio committee chair Sipho “KK” Nkosi said the committee was proud of the conduct of the treasury staff. “These officials serve our people with love and dignity while maintaining the good working ethics. People of KZN are indeed blessed to have these officials. They are taking the cue from the hard working MEC, Scott,” he said.

DA MPL Francois Rodgers thanked the “committed” treasury staff “led by head of department [Simiso Magagula] and the MEC”.

NFP MPL Erickson Zungu said Scott’s efforts “have not gone unnoticed”.

IFP MPL Lourens de Klerk said the party was not against the MEC saying whenever they criticise her in robust debate, and added Scott is a strong voice against wasteful expenditure.

THE Finance portfolio wants MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Cyril Xaba to deal with the Ntingwe Tea Estate and Mjindi Farming.

Committee member Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said there seems to be confusion in relation to this entity on its operations. “This cannot be allowed to continue as this entity if funded using government resources.

“That is why we support the initiative by the Provincial Executive to establish a task team that looks at the viability of this entity.

“This task team should be encouraged to deal with its mandate as soon as possible,” she said.

Simelane-Zulu said the the committee have been “grappling with the concept” of Mjindi Farming for years. “And why the department continues to fund it even when its clear that it is a sinkhole for government funds. This is a problem that was inherited by this MEC and the one before him and the one before her. The department cannot spend R20 million and only be able to recover R4 million,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kwazulu-natal  |  budget

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