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21 FEBRUARY 2024


The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) rejects the incoherent and out-of-touch budget speech tabled by the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, in the National Assembly today. The proposed budget, themed “check against delivery,” is undisputedly and scientifically proven to show that the National Treasury’s conduct, policies, and approach to fiscal policy are threats against South Africa’s national economic security and should be treated with serious suspicion, as they recklessly continue to advance the interests of the capitalist establishment at the expense of the lives of our people. The proposed budget fails to adequately address the issue of electricity blackouts, load-shedding, and the state of Eskom, which threatens South Africa’s economy.

This budget is yet another confirmation that the ANC government lacks the willingness and capacity to resolve the energy security crisis facing South Africa. Instead, the ANC, against all warnings and historical data, erroneously entrusted the task of resolving the energy crisis to the National Treasury. The National Treasury has outsourced solution findings to Europeans whose interests will further entrench the neo-colonialism of South Africa. The so-called report on the independent review of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations by an international consortium led by VGBE is neither independent nor a genuine attempt at depoliticizing the decision to decommission coal-powered stations. The project to try and stop South Africa from using coal, driven by greed, must be rejected.

The EFF completely rejects the so-called mainstreaming of climate finance. When the EFF takes over power, we are going to reverse all these multilateral agreements in

the name of climate change. The idea that the National Treasury is the one trusted
with mobilizing resources, designing incentives, and influencing policy to mainstream climate change is a cause for concern and a serious red flag.

The EFF notes Godongwana’s false claims that the proposed budget makes provision
for job creation. The R61.4 billion allocated for employment programmes over the
medium term means that each year is allocated roughly R20 billion. Recently, the
Statistician-General announced that unemployment has increased to 42.6%, which
means more than 11 million people willing, ready, and seeking employment cannot
find jobs.

The majority of the unemployed are youth, who are forced into lives of crime
and substance abuse. The proposed budget is tone-deaf to the plight of many
unemployed people who cannot participate in the economy because of joblessness.
The budget proposed by Godongwana does not have any believable plan to stop the
complete collapse of South Africa’s economy, as we have already passed the crisis
point. The National Treasury’s own growth projections of an average of 1.6% between
2024 and 2026 are unrealistic because there is no solution to the electricity budget

South Africa’s economy is being sabotaged by the reserve bank, which treats inflation
as if it can be managed by interest rates when it’s influenced by factors beyond their
control and comprehension. Today, the South African Reserve Bank, together with the
National Treasury, has chosen a policy of jobs and budget cuts, leaving millions living
in poverty and unemployment with unimaginable high levels of inequality.

The South African government continues to borrow without any intention of allocating
any of the budget to the re-industrialization of South Africa’s economy in order to
create sustainable jobs. Consequently, we do not see the value of whatever money is
borrowed, and all we have is a confused fiscal policy that is simply limping from one
year to the next while the debt continues to grow to disastrous levels.

We note the approach to reform the GFECRA account held by the South African
Reserve Bank. It is regrettable that the National Treasury is likely to take very long to
finalize reforms to be able to withdraw the R150 billion. Additionally, any money that is likely to be withdrawn by the National Treasury is going to be spent entirely on
repayments of expensive foreign denominated debt.

The EFF is disgusted that the National Treasury’s privatization pamphlet, presented
as economic reform, is now in full swing, and we are witnessing the complete
privatization through the backdoor of strategic functions that must be the purview of state-owned companies. The privatization of port functions is regrettable, and the EFF
will prioritize the reversal of such nonsensical arrangements when we take over the
government after the 29th of May 2024.
We note the attempts to continue with theatrics to perpetuate the idea that the
government is reforming public procurement. In reality, the attempt is to do away with
all transformative imperatives of the government.

The EFF will continue to call for the
abolishment of tenders and the building of state capacity, insourcing security guards,
cleaners, ICT services, and a complete ban on the use of consultants.

It is shocking that the proposed budget continues to subject only workers to tax
increases while corporate income tax remains untouched. There are still no tangible
and practical measures to deal with illicit financial flows, aggressive tax avoidance,
and base erosion. The obsession with specific sectors involved in illicit trade, while
ignoring that all sectors are involved in these practices shows that SARS continues to
be a political tool at the hands of a cabal.

The EFF welcomes the increases in social grants, and even though we acknowledge
that the R100, R50, and R20 increases are laughable. The fact that we have nearly
19 million South Africans who rely on grants to make ends meet is not a point of
celebration but an illustration that the ANC has completely failed our people.
Godongwana introduced his budget by trying to position the National Treasury as
some apolitical institution when, in reality, the National Treasury is involved in the
political life of South Africa to protect the benefits and interests of the Oppenheimers,
Ruperts, Bekkers, Wieses, Mennells, and all other billionaires whose wealth is
dependent on the impoverishment of the rest of South Africans. We reject the notion that politics is only concerned with distribution while economics is about expanding
the economic pie.

Godongwana and the National Treasury’s power-drunk officials are trying to insulate
the National Treasury because they know that the ANC is going to lose power in May
2024, and we will change the nature and character of the National Treasury to respond
to the needs and challenges facing teachers, police officers, nurses, doctors, artisans,
engineers, SMEs, domestic workers, security guards, and all workers and poor South
Africans, instead of only catering to banks and financiers.

The EFF maintains that the
National Treasury is not a power unto itself and will have to be reminded that it remains
merely a government department whose job is to make proposals. The fact that the
ANC government has given the National Treasury unfettered powers is a demonstration of how the ANC is captured and must be removed from power on the
29th of May 2024.

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