As Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana called for South African citizens to share tips on what should be included in his upcoming national Budget speech, the Western Cape government and political and non-profit organisations shared their expectations for the Budget.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said the province is still licking its wounds following what it called unprecedented in-year budget cuts by National Treasury that have affected service delivery in the province.
At the end of November 2023, the Western Cape government formally declared an intergovernmental dispute with the national government represented by Godongwana and the Minister for Public Service and Administration, Noxolo Kiviet, in terms of sections 41 and 42 of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act.
“The dispute relates to the centrally negotiated and agreed-to public sector wage bill, which was implemented after the Western Cape provincial parliament approved the annual budget, leading to unprecedented in-year budget cuts of R1.1 billion in 2023/24. These cuts are simply unconscionable and unsustainable,” said Winde.
He said that in the upcoming Budget, they will be keeping a close eye on any further cuts.
“We are already fighting for every resident of this province – especially our children, the sick, and the most vulnerable – so we can ensure they receive the funding and services they deserve,” he said.
Also still concerned about the budget cuts is the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP), which said, in the context of reports of a R13.7bn cut to the budget, they are hopeful that higher education will receive adequate funding from the government.
“We look forward to a deliberate use of public funds as far as funding for higher education is concerned, and for spending to be focused on areas where it will have the greatest impact.
“For this reason, we believe a focus must be placed on occupations in high-demand, like 4IR and Stemrelated fields,” said ISFAP CEO Morné du Toit.
Du Toit said they hope to see budget allocations made to set up much-needed student support structures that will go a long way in ensuring that students are successful.
“In addition, drop-out rates are still far too high, which puts unnecessary strain on spending. Offering holistic support to students (what we call ‘wraparound' support) can drastically improve throughput rates, which can in turn eliminate much of the waste that currently exists in the system,” said Du Toit.
Axolile Notywala, Rise Mzansi's Western Cape convenor, has urged the finance minister to prioritise making sure that health facilities are properly capacitated with enough resources and personnel.
“Detective training and support, such as forensic investigating units' capacity to effectively and timely investigate all crimes, must be prioritised in the Budget,” said Notywala.
DA spokesperson on Budget, Deidre Baartman, wants the National Treasury to pay back the money for the public wage increase they agreed to and then forced provinces to fund last year.
“In addition, money that was cut from conditional grants to provinces last year must be paid back. The unfunded public wage increase, as well as cuts to infrastructure grants, have had a direct impact on provincial service delivery capabilities.
“The National Treasury even requested in a committee last year that no new infrastructure projects, including schools, should be started. The DA is committed to ensuring that the people of the Western Cape, which is now the third-most populous province in the country, get their fair share from the National Treasury,” said Baartman.
The Budget speech will be delivered on Wednesday, February 21.