New finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube ’must deliver a people’s budget’
Durban - NEWLY appointed finance MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, who is scheduled to table the Special Adjustment Budget on Tuesday will do so with her back against the wall as the province is still reeling from the short- and long-term effects of the coronavirus that has decimated jobs, businesses and households, leaving the most vulnerable of KwaZulu-Natal’s 11.1 million population facing an even bleaker future.
The Special Adjustment Budget is aimed at fighting the negative effects of the coronavirus in the province, and organisations that speak for some of the poorest people said they expected the budget to talk to the elites and not those who were destitute.
Abahlali baseMjondolo president S’bu Zikode said every year there was a budget allocation that never spoke to the people, and he did not expect anything different this year.
He said there had been no consultation with people on the ground for this year’s budget. “It is not the people’s budget. The people have no voice. That is why people’s lives have not improved,” he said.
Zikode said inequality and unemployment had worsened since Covid-19 struck, and the situation had deteriorated to the point where people no longer feared dying from the coronavirus, and preferred to die from it than from hunger.
“They are trying to respond to the elites and so-called white monopoly capital,” he said.
The focus of the budget needed to be on the economies of townships and rural areas, Zikode said.
However, Dube-Ncube has reiterated that she wants to stimulate job creation and economic development.
She said that there needed to be rural development as people had lost jobs during the pandemic.
“I do not want to reveal more, but we will have to do more with few resources,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said Covid-19 had devastated KZN’s economy, which affected service delivery, and the budget aimed to rejuvenate the province.
She said they would make budget cuts to departments that were not as badly affected as others.
They would also help developing businesses through procurements, DubeNcube said.
She said they would also help distressed municipalities by providing skills that they were short of, and would ensure that they did not collapse.
Acting KZN National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) chairperson Paul Mkhwanazi agreed that there should be an emphasis on developing the rural economy.
He said that food security was the “spine of the economy” and they would like to address this issue.
Mkhwanazi said that the organisation had already started to work with people in rural areas, and they needed the government to provide funds for skills programmes.
He said the organisation would add the skills and mentorships to ensure people could make a living.
“We need to find a way out of poverty … People are desperate to do something,” Mkhwanazi said.
The secretary of the Coalition of the Poor, Verushka Memdutt, said they wanted the budget to address unemployment, job losses and land reform that will help them produce food for themselves.
“We must be emancipated from all shackles. Decent housing for all is a basic human right and must be addressed immediately. Climate justice must be given strong support as it empowers the masses and promotes the quality of all lives,” she said.
DA spokesperson on Finance, Dr Francois Rodgers, said he expected a decrease in the wage bill.
Rodgers said there was a possibility of a freeze on vacancies, and that the road ahead was bleak.
Rodgers said he expected the departments of Health and Education to be kept afloat, but did not expect much for general service delivery.
IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said tomorrow’s budget came after the MEC had been in office for only seven days, and that it was unfortunate that the swop between her and Ravi Pillay happened so close to the announcement of the adjustment budget. However, he had faith in her abilities.