Parliament - On the eve of Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba's Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the Democratic Alliance said the fact that a government budget planning document has been classified suggested that the country continued to see a power struggle between the presidency and the treasury over public funds.
Democratic Alliance finance spokesman David Maynier said Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe's refusal to release a copy of the so-called Mandate Paper was untenable given the constitutional directive for transparency in budgetary processes.
Maynier submitted a request for the document in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act in mid September.
He said he received a response from Rabebe on October 17, stating that “the Mandate Paper is an instrument for budget prioritisation, and the process through which it is developed will be strengthened as part of the process of institutionalising planning, which includes the introduction of legislation.
"At this stage it is part of the process that will culminate into the engagement of all stakeholders towards institutionalisation of planning more broadly, which will kick-start during the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Forum hosted by DPME on 12 and 13 October 2017.”
Maynier said it appeared that Rabebe had been given a gate-keeping role over budgetary processes that will undermine the finance minister's mandate.
"It looks like a legislated power grab by Radebe that will reduce Malusi Gigaba to a book keeper," he told ANA.
Maynier said he viewed this as a continuation of the power struggle between the presidency and the National Treasury that dated back to Pravin Gordhan's tenure as finance minister.
"There now seems to be a bid to centralise budget prioritisation in the presidency at the expense of the National Treasury".
Gigaba will on Wednesday deliver his first Medium-Term Budget Policy after taking over from Gordhan in May after he was fired in a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle.
Maynier on Tuesday pressed Parliament's standing committee on finance to invite Radebe to a meeting on Thursday, which is traditionally an opportunity for the finance minister to engage with MPs on the mid-term statement.
He said Rabebe should come to explain the budget prioritisation process.