POLITICAL NEWS - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Appropriations Bill was approved in parliament on Tuesday, which will mean that money from the National Reserve Fund will be used for various departments and entities – and controversially, to offer a lifeline to South Africa’s struggling state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Eskom will be given R59 billion in the next two years, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will receive R3.2 billion, and other SOEs such as Denel and South African Airways (SAA) will also receive financial relief from government.
The bill was responded to by the Democratic Alliance’s member on the Appropriations Committee, Ashor Sarupen, who painted a picture of how he believed state capture was impacting ordinary South Africans rather than those responsible.
“This budget itself is a bailout budget,” Sarupen said.
“The outcome of state capture is that all South Africans have to endure public service cuts to bailout what was stolen from Eskom and other SOEs. Commuter trains are being cut by R4.2 billion, municipal infrastructure loses R1 billion, special economic zones face cuts, and this is what a fiscal cliff looks like, when you cut public services to balance what the Guptas have stolen.”
He then brought up the R17 billion allocated to Eskom in emergency funding in April. “The emergency bailout, with more on the way, does not have any known conditions,” Sarupen said.
While these conditions are meant to be announced, we don’t know what they are, according to the DA MP.
“All we know is that South Africans are paying twice for electricity through their energy bills and again through their taxes.
“The burden of state capture and paying back the money is not falling onto the looters but onto ordinary South Africans.
“When a parent buys a textbook for his child the VAT on this textbook is now being used to bail out a failing SOE because of state capture. That is morally wrong.
Sarupen then turned his attention to those “entrusted to administer this budget”, singling out ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule “of Gangster State fame” (with reference to the recent book by Pieter-Louis Myburgh), who he said “has been described by the president – not here today – as his boss”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa did indeed describe Magashule as his boss during a casual conversation at the Global Citizen music festival at the FNB stadium in December last year. The conversation was caught on video, although it appears that he may have been joking.
“If this is the case then this government is asking parliament to allow R1.4 trillion of people’s money to be spent by a criminal syndicate masquerading as a governing party,” Sarupen alleged.
According to the DA MP, 70% of the funds that will be appropriated – R630 billion – are “transfers and subsidies with very little oversight”.
He used local government’s role in the VBS scandal as an example.
“Fourteen municipalities illegally deposited R1.5 billion into VBS bank, some of this was transferred from national government and in the greatest act of political irony we’ve ever seen, VBS promptly took this public money deposited by the ANC and gave it to our friends in red,” he said, a comment which was reacted to with angry shouts from the EFF caucus.
“The reaction to VBS being placed under curatorship and the assault on the independence of the reserve bank [demonstrates] there is a war going on against our economic institutions by criminal syndicates masquerading as political parties,” Sarupen continued.
“Our fight is for economic sanity and inclusive growth and against allowing the president’s boss to print unlimited money,” he said, before concluding with the latin phrase aluta continua – which he joked meant “the struggle continues, not the looting continues”.