Can Pravin walk the talk?
It was a brave Pravin Gordhan who took the podium in Parliament this week to tell us what we have known for a while now: financially, we’ve hit rock bottom.
In previous years, the preoccupation of Gordhan and his predecessor, Trevor Manuel, has been that money is available but it is not well-spent. Now that time is over, the well has dried up.
The measures that Gordhan announced will put paid to President Jacob Zuma’s proud announcement last year in his State of the Nation Address that “we will increase jobs in the public sector by 10%”.
Now it is clear such gratuitous job creation through the public purse is impossible.
Gordhan has put the brakes on all spending, saying to ministers if they think of new ideas in the next three years, they will have to find the money themselves.
His tough talk should be welcomed, but can he enforce it?
It seems Zuma’s right-hand man on handling the economic crisis is Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, not Gordhan or even Manuel, who’s now responsible for long-term planning.
While the departments were able to save R3 billion, there seem to be no attempts to cut down on the spending by Zuma himself, with expenditure for Nkandla being approved a mere two weeks ago.
For us to heed Gordhan’s call and tighten our belts, we want to see our public officials, and our president, do the same and lead by example.