Johannesburg – State Capture cannot be ignored, and when Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivers the mini budget on Wednesday he must be clear on plans to stop corruption and clean up state-owned enterprises (SOEs) said the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
In a statement the trade union set out its expectations of the mini budget. National Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla explained that Gigaba’s “unenviable task” is made worse by the fact that no one is being prosecuted for corruption.
“The role of the State Capture and corruption in sabotaging the economy and destroying jobs cannot be overlooked. The minister cannot pretend as if the Public Protector’s report never identified these twin evils as an albatross around our economy and government’s neck,” said Pamla.
Besides dealing with SOEs such as Eskom, Transnet, SAA and SABC, Cosatu wants Gigaba to deal with corporates like KPMG.
“Their toxic role should not be downplayed and it’s about time the government of the country implemented the law on criminalisation of cartels. We cannot condemn corruption but still shield executives from being criminally prosecuted.”
Cosatu also criticised the outsourcing of the payments of social grants to “white monopoly capital”, and called for the minister to reduce government spending on consultants in this regard. Cosatu wants Gigaba to give an update for when the payment of social grants will happen through the Post Office.
The trade union wants clarity on the minister’s plan to “stabilise, clean up” and restore good governance at SOEs, as well as improve the state of their finances.
Radial economic transformation
“We expect the minister to use the midterm budget to talk about racially transforming the economy,” said Pamla.
“We expect the budget to clarify the demand for free education; free accommodation, free tuition fees, and free meals for learners.” Cosatu also wants Gigaba to share on plans to address the “infrastructure mess” collapsing the education system.
Among other areas of transformation, Cosatu wants an update on when National Health Insurance (NHI) will be implemented
Further, Gigaba should indicate how government plans to grow the economy and create jobs for the unemployed.
Cosatu also will be looking to see government’s plan to fast track land reform as well as tax reforms to lessen the burden on the working and middle class, and have the rich pay their “fair share”.
Cosatu also spoke out against the role of the private sector in shaping the economy. Particularly, the trade union wants Eskom to remain state-owned. The alternative would see South Africans pay high tariffs, which are detrimental to job creation and industrial development, Pamla claimed.
“The minister needs to make it clear that he is opposed to the nuclear deal because the country cannot afford it at the moment,” he added.
Following the Cabinet reshuffle last week, where President Jacob Zuma replaced Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi with State Security Minister David Mahlobo, economists said that it was too late for such a move to have a bearing on the mini budget.
Lesiba Mothata, executive chief economist at Alexander Forbes Investments, told Fin24 that it would be surprising if figures would change based on the Cabinet reshuffle. Especially given that Gigaba told delegates at the World Bank-IMF conference in Washington that South Africa was not ready for a new nuclear power build.
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