Strict accountability measures required to safeguard SA's R500bn Covid-19 relief
The party was responding to the socio-economic relief measures announced by Ramaphosa on Tuesday night, aimed at mitigating the impact of the national lockdown which has resulted in severe economic damage to South Africans and businesses.
The package is set to be divided for an increased coronavirus response, relief of hunger and social distress, support for companies and workers, and the phased reopening of the economy.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said that with a large portion of the money set to be directed to local government-level, close monitoring was crucial to ensure accountability.
“We already know that there are severe concerns and constraints on capacity at local government-level as well as accountability.
“Municipal councils and the parliamentary portfolio committees to which municipalities account need to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that every cent of this R500bn makes its way to South Africans who genuinely need the assistance,” Steenhuisen said.
The DA said the lockdown had served its purpose of buying time to prepare for the spread of the global pandemic, which had infected over 3000 people and killed 65.
Steenhuisen said while Ramaphosa was leading the phased reopening of the country’s economy, he had to make the wearing of face masks by South Africans mandatory to help ensure the spread of the virus was minimised, even in the absence of the lockdown which saw people forced to stay home.
DA spokesperson on finance Geordin Hill-Lewis said while the party fully welcomed Ramaphosa’s stimulus package as a temporary intervention, real economic reforms were needed to address the country’s socio-economic challenges.
“What’s going to be increasingly essential in the future is that once all the spending is over, we’re going to have our debt and spending under control, and for that reason, a fiscal rule is going to be critical. We also have to end the bailout to state-owned companies like SAA ,” Hill-Lewis said.
Ghaleb Cachalia, DA spokesperson on public enterprises, called for “full disclosure” on the ongoing consultations between the unions and the inter-ministerial committee on SAA, which met to discuss the business rescue process and impending mass retrenchments at the embattled airline, whose business rescue practitioners are requesting a lifeline of R10bn from the government.
The party has been opposed to attempts to save the airline from collapse, demanding its liquidation.
Meanwhile, Nehawu maintained it was “disappointed and underwhelmed” by what it termed the “timid stimulation package” announced by Ramaphosa, which it said fell short of the necessary interventions required to create employment and promote a robust positive GDP-growth rate.
“This is on top of the government’s failure to reverse its decision to disrespect and renege on the 2018 public service wage agreement, which is a frontal attack on the hard-won gains of workers, particularly those who continue to make sacrifices providing front-line services to our people in saving lives, delivering essential services and enforcing law and order.”
It said the multiple crises faced by the country required an innovative, bold, decisive and courageous stance.