Insession writer Mava Lukani spoke to South Africans and asked them about their expectations of Minister of Finance Mr Tito Mboweni when he delivers the Budget Speech today.

Ms Nosango Khungela of Langa Township, who is domestic worker, said: “We want to hear from him a larger slice for the poorest of the poor. We want to hear him saying there is more in the store for grants. In as much as we appreciated our government for the special R350 grant, but it was very little for certain households.

Mr Luxolo Gxasheka is a taxi driver. He is expecting the Minister to provide more for the taxi industry. “The outbreak of the coronavirus in March last year exposed the little that the government has for this industry. Had the industry not defied health protocols of social distance, risking their lives to do so, there would be no taxi industry by now. I hope that the government has learnt a lesson on that. We want what we deserve.”

Security guard Mr Xolile Luyengo said: “We wish the Minister to say something about this very poor industry. If the government didn’t provide that R350, we would have died because of hunger not coronavirus. He must learn from that and provide for this industry.”

Mr Joseph Jacobs sells fruit at the Cape Town taxi rank. He said: “We hear that we are categorised as small business sector, but we are below that category. We wish the Minister to put aside specifically to assist this very poor and weak sector of business. They must not include our share in the small business sector because it doesn’t reach us.”

Mr Mathew Parks who is the Congress of South African Trade Union’s Parliamentary Coordinator said: “Cosatu is looking forward to the Budget Speech. Workers have a lot riding on the 2021/22 budget and the MTEF [Medium Term Economic Framework]. South Africa is not only battling the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the worst economic crisis in 100 years. Unemployment has pushed past 50% and many more may be retrenched. Many state-owned enterprises and municipalities are collapsing.

“Cosatu hopes that the budget will speak to the progressive commitments of the State of the Nation Address. We do not need new plans, but merely to indicate what resources are being allocated, interventions undertaken, timeframes needed and job creation targets.

“We need the vaccine plan to be accelerated,” Mr Parks continued. “The economy cannot afford periodic lockdowns. We need to achieve the 70% population immunity target by the end of 2021 not 2022.

“Economic and social relief measures need to be extended for vulnerable workers, businesses and sectors that remain under restrictions or distress,” he said. “This includes the Unemployment Insurance Fund Covid-19 TERS [Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme], the R350 Covid-19 grant, a revamped Loan Guarantee Scheme, tax and sectoral relief.

“The budget needs to indicate what resources it will allocate to ensure the implementation of the Economic Recovery Plan,” Mr Parks continued, “in particular to ramp up local procurement, roll out the infrastructure programme, implement the Eskom Social Compact, provide clear road maps to rehabilitate collapsing state-owned enterprises and municipalities.

“The budget needs to indicate what is being done to reduce the R150 billion lost to corruption and wasteful expenditure annually and to capacitate the South African Receiver of Revenue to tackle the billions lost to tax and customs evasion,” Mr Parks said.

“Government needs to respect collective bargaining, implement the last leg of the 2018 wage agreement and engage with unions at the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council on the next 3-year wage agreement. If it is serious about engaging workers, then it needs to slash the exorbitant packages paid to politicians and management.”

Mava Lukani
24 February 2021