Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier, said the South African government’s new budget prioritisation framework has proven to be a great threat to South African democracy, following allegations of meddling in the affairs of Treasury.
Those allegations come in the wake of the announcement that Head of Budget Michael Sachs would vacate his post. Reports reveal that meddling from the Presidency, over a fee-free funding model, is at the heart of this resignation.
Maynier said assurances that had been provided by Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, meant absolutely nothing now. Radebe had previously told journalists that there was nothing to fear about the new framework.
“The shock resignation of veteran budget office head, Michael Sachs, which is a huge blow to National Treasury, confirms our fears that decision-making on budget priorities, and the budget itself, have now been centralised under President Jacob Zuma,” said Maynier.
The Shadow Minister said the signs of Treasury being under siege had been there for a long time now, adding that the evidence was more compelling than ever.
“We now have a Presidential Fiscal Committee making decisions about the budget at the expense of the Minister’s Committee on the Budget,” said Maynier.
“We have a Mandate Paper setting out budget priorities, in terms of a new budget prioritisation framework, compiled by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, at the expense of National Treasury and that is not to mention rogue elements, such a Morris Masutha, who are reportedly peddling a R40-billion budget-busting plan for higher education, with the support of President Jacob Zuma.”
Maynier said it was clearer than ever that budget planning processes had been plunged into chaos under this administration, adding that the powers of Treasury were gradually being reduced.
“It seems that National Treasury are slowly being defanged and reduced to bookkeepers, with declining influence over budget priorities, and the budget itself, under President Jacob Zuma,” added Maynier.
“We can only hope that there is no snowball effect and that other senior officials at the apex of the system hold steady and do not resign from National Treasury.”