by Zodidi Mahlana JOHANNESBURG South
Africa (Xinhua) -- With South Africa’s public finances
in a precarious state, the National Treasury’s decision to ask all national
departments to slash their budgets for the next three years has not come as a
surprise, said an expert.
The National Treasury has suggested all
national departments cut their budgets by 5 percent in 2020, 6 percent in 2021
and 7 percent in 2022 in the medium-term expenditure framework guidelines.
The guidelines come at a time when the country’s economy growth is stagnant,
joblessness on the rise and rating agencies have expressed concerns about
billions of rands that have been given to indebted state-owned entities.
The expert believed that while there was a need for budget cuts at national
level, this should also be extended to provincial departments.
"It wouldn’t be sufficient at national level only, provincial departments
must also deal with their expenditures.
"Treasury has realized that the medium-term budget framework previously
announced can no longer materialize because of the poor growth and declining
revenue collection," Professor Jannie Rossouw, Head of School of Economic and
Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, told Xinhua on
Rossouw suggested that the Treasury continue looking for ways to rein on
expenditure and trim the wage bill.
"If government spends without growth and tax, it means government’s debt will
"The major expenditure is the wage bill and not give huge wage increases
would assist in reducing expenditure," he said.
He also said that government could place a moratorium on new appointments.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni would be under immense pressure when he
delivers the medium-term budget speech in October as revenue collection is set
Some have warned the government to cut its expenditure in an effort to avoid
approaching financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund for
The South African government’s debt is now above 60 percent of the GDP.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
pursue universal health insurance despite criticism
CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) --
President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed on Thursday to pursue universal
healthcare insurance for all South Africans despite growing criticism.
The National Healthcare Insurance (NHI) bill, submitted to Parliament by
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize earlier this month, would offer South Africans the
opportunity to fundamentally transform the healthcare system in the country,
Ramaphosa said at a Q&A session in Parliament.
"It is for this reason that we are perusing an ambitious program to address
the problems in our health system alongside the introduction of the NHI," the
president said in response to a question about whether the country is ready to
implement the NHI.
This universal healthcare policy was not unique to South Africa and was
supported by other countries in the G20, said Ramaphosa.
He said other G20 countries are working towards universal healthcare
insurance and South Africa is also on track.
The NHI bill envisages a package of comprehensive health services for free at
private and public health facilities as part of the government’s bid to provide
more equitable access to quality healthcare.
The landmark bill will benefit all South African citizens, permanent
residents, refugees, inmates, designated foreign nationals and all children.
But critics say the financing model of this bill will mean the imposition of
a new tax on ordinary South Africans who have already been squeezed dry by the
government and cannot be subjected to yet another tax.
Several political parties and numerous bodies, including the South African
Private Practitioners’ Forum, voiced scepticism about the bill, calling it
unrealistic, too expensive, and would potentially damage the healthcare sector,
particularly when the country is facing a financial crisis.
Critics argue that the bill seeks to fundamentally alter healthcare policy in
South Africa by creating a state-owned entity to consolidate all funds within
the public and private health system, thus resulting in billions of rand being
placed in the hands of the politically connected and giving the health minister
unvetted powers and in control of the entire health system.
Moreover, the bill completely centralizes the provision of healthcare by
placing the management of all central hospitals under the national health
department, which would ultimately lead to the nationalization of healthcare,
according to critics.
Earlier, Ramaphosa refuted growing criticism against the NHI which he said is
the future of the South Africa healthcare sector "whether people like it or not.
Also on Thursday, the South African cabinet said it would implement the NHI
"in a phased and responsible manner."
An implementation plan will be developed and published once the bill is
passed into law, the cabinet said after a fortnightly meeting in Cape Town.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health said last week that it was seeking
urgent legal advice from the Office of the State Attorney on the
constitutionality of the NHI bill.
Before starting deliberating the bill, it will be important to address
concerns raised by various people, including those who think they will find
space to challenge the constitutionality of the bill, Committee Chairperson
Sibongiseni Dhlomo said.
Drastic budget cut for South African
police sparks concern amid rising crime
CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) --
A drastic budget cut for the South African Police Service (SAPS)
has sparked concern as the country is facing escalating levels of violence and
It is unconscionable that the National Treasury reduced the budget for the
SAPS which "is already severely under-capacitated and under-resourced," the
opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said.
On Wednesday, the SAPS announced in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on
Police that the National Treasury had instructed it to cut its budget by five
billion rand (about 328 million U.S. dollars) in 2020/2021, 6.5 billion rand
(about 427 million dollars) in 2021/22 and 7.8 billion rand (about 513 million
dollars) in 2022/2023.
This will lead to 23,617 posts being lost over the next three financial
Currently the SAPS has approximately 191,000 employees, a number which would
drop to 167,383 by 2022/23 due to the budget cut.
A drop in personnel is not the way to achieve a 50-percent reduction of
violent crime, as promised by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year, the
"This shocking announcement comes at a time when the majority of South
Africans feel increasingly unsafe in their communities, due to escalating levels
of violence and crime," DA Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield said.
Further budget cuts will only continue to hinder SAPS’ ability to provide
visible policing and will condemn citizens to living in even greater fear than
they do now, he said.
The SAPS is currently 64,000 police officers short of meeting the United
Nations (UN) policing ration of 1:220. In South Africa, the police to citizen
ratio is 1:380.
A loss of an additional 23,617 personnel is not the answer, Whitfield said.
The DA has proposed an alternative, yet constructive, budget proposal, which
considers cutting VIP protection costs instead of other police programs.
The VIP protection budget allocation amounts to approximately 10 million rand
(about 657,000 dollars) per individual, per year, with an approximate cabinet
cost to taxpayers amounting to 631 million rand (about 41.5 million dollars)
Moreover, the SAPS’ contingent liability for civil claims currently totals 14
billion rand (about 921 million dollars) per year, with claims relating to
unlawful arrests and detention totaling 189 million rand (about 12.4 million
dollars) per year.
The budget shortfall should rather be addressed by ensuring a more
professional, properly trained police service, with minimal civil claims, the DA
Situation calm in South African townships
after foreign shops looting
JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) --
The situation is calm in South Africa’s Soweto townships
following the looting of shops belonging to foreigners and 18 suspects were
arrested, South African police said on Friday.
On Wednesday night, several shops belonging to foreigners were looted.
Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubele told Xinhua that the situation is
calm and they are monitoring the situation.
"The situation is calm and we are monitoring the affected areas.
"We have arrested 18 suspects who will be charged with public violence.
"They will appear in court soon," said Makhubele.
He condemned the looting of shops on what he blamed on opportunistic
The chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF), Vusumuzi Sibanda, said
some shops are still closed due to fear.
"The situation is a bit calm with police patrolling but some shops are still
"Some ran away to seek shelter at police stations while some went to live
"Some shop owners are still afraid to open shops," Sibanda said.
Sibanda said the government is not doing enough to protect foreigners who are
always attacked and their property confiscated by locals.
ADF is an organization of citizens of over 35 African countries whose
residents stay in South Africa.
Ramaphosa applauds Tanzania as 'Shrine of liberation
South Africa now seeks legal advice on Universal