Politics / 1 November 2019, 08:39am / SIVIWE FEKETHA AND MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA
Johannesburg - South Africa’s biggest public sector union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), has slammed the ANC for its inability to rein in Finance Minister Tito Mboweni for pushing pro-market policies, which it says are driving government away from the ANC’s 2017 resolutions on economic transformation.
This comes after Mboweni’s mini-budget on Wednesday, when he announced serious austerity measures, as he said the country was facing turmoil due to its ballooning debt.
Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said: “The national union has been extremely worried about the conduct of Mboweni for a very long time, and the lack of appetite by the leadership of the ANC to rein him in. We hold a strong view that Mboweni has totally no regard for the ANC and the alliance.”
Saphetha said the union would lobby Cosatu to call an urgent alliance meeting with the ANC and the SACP to discuss the undermining of the tripartite alliance in government, among other things.
Meanwhile Mboweni has stuck to his guns in accusing former public service and administration ministers of being responsible for the huge public service wage bill.
“Whether Faith Muthambi likes it or not, she and Richard Baloyi were part of creating this problem.
“We are now stuck in a situation where the public sector wage bill is a significant challenge that we must deal with,” Mboweni said.
He made the comments when he briefed the joint meeting of parliamentary committees on finance and appropriation on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.
Timeslive quoted Muthambi as demanding Mboweni apologise to the nation for “peddling lies, and explain what path he is crawling on”.
Briefing MPs yesterday, Mboweni said low revenue, which put pressure on the fiscus, was the number one risk to the country.
He said state-owned companies such as Eskom, SAA, SA Express, Denel, the SABC and Alexkor were also at risk, as well via fiscal leaks, particularly litigation against the state and state organs.
“Put together, this litigation would amount to about R100 billion,” he said. Mboweni added that corruption and theft of state resources, which law enforcement agencies should deal with decisively, also constituted a risk.
The minister told MPs that the central and fundamental issue that controlled South Africa was economic growth and development.
“Growth issues are key because it is out of growing the economy that we would be able to obtain more revenue for expenditure and investment. This would be subject to well-functioning revenue services and a population that pays tax and all other service-related payments.”
He said measures had to be found to boost the economic growth and development in a low revenue environment faced with high expenditure.
“We would be able to achieve our objectives when the economy grew, and we received higher revenue.
“We are faced with the conundrum of low growth, low revenue collection, high expectations on expenditure and a growing fiscal deficit and that presents a huge challenge.”
He noted with concern that the deficit posed a challenge when resources were allocated, as debt had to be paid first. “That is what we try to do in this Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement,” he concluded.