I warmly applaud Minister Gordhan’s budget speech for providing an inspiring call to action by all citizens, and for skillfully spelling out a realistic trajectory of practical areas of action.
In an environment where many feel disempowered and helpless, or inadequate in the face of the challenges, he appeals to all South Africans to make a concerted joint effort to play their part in achieving the economic and social transformations, which must still follow the political transformation. He cleverly emphasizes his point by naming nine individuals, from among the many who sent “Tips for Trevor”, and describing the ideas they submitted. He encourages a culture of involvement: “We must build a new common purpose so that we can use all of our talents, skills and resources to tackle our economic and social challenges.” I strongly endorse this energizing notion of responsible citizenship.
In the technical content there were specific new provisions to directly address current challenges e.g. the financial incentives for youth employment (for which NGOs are specifically eligible) may provide a real, practical route for all NGOs to play a role in “eating the elephant” of a hopeless youth. Another specific area where we, the NGO community, can play our role is that of environment and sustainability. The carbon tax on new cars, whilst adding to our “operating cost” burden as small organisations, demonstrates a much needed positive intent in this domain. The new tax provisions around SMMEs, and increased focus on basic education, all point towards a grounding of the budget in the realities and challenges which frustrate our communities and citizenry.
Minister Gordhan’s priorities: improving the quality of basic education, enhancing the health of our people, making our communities safer, fostering rural development, creating jobs; and investing in local government and human settlements, are mostly areas of traditional strength and activity of our sector. Let’s take another look at our own operations and see how we can team, formally or informally, with government to leverage our impact.
Chief Executive Officer
Common Purpose South Africa