Balancing Social Spend with a Developmental Agenda is Key to our Country’s Success
The South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) welcomes Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's steady leadership and courage to forge ahead with social spending, notwithstanding the local and global economic climate. We are particularly encouraged by the Minister's pragmatism in ensuring “development first rather than dependence on social security”.
During the past 17 years, our democratically elected government has attempted to correct the legacy of our inequalities through redistribution and reprioritisation of spending on the poorest sectors of our society. In our view, the Minister has tried to deliver a balanced budget taking into account the needs of the poorest and most disadvantaged peoples, while moving our country along a developmental path.
SANZAF welcomes his budget allocation to key areas: viz. education, health, housing, and infrastructure maintenance, amongst others.
We are pleased that government will provide tangible commitments to job creation and education by forcing all Ministries to make appropriate interventions and allocations in this regard, as has been done for the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). We believe however, that the private sector should also be incentivised to play its part in this regard.
The Minister could have given further impetus to the cause of social redress and economic empowerment if he had increased the tax rebate on corporate donations, thus encouraging the private sector to play an even more active role in these social upliftment programmes, thereby “balancing the pursuit of profit with social justice.”
We are concerned about the knock-on effects that the increase in the fuel levy will have, especially on the poor families who live far from work, schools and clinics, as well as its effects on the increase in the cost of consumer goods and other essentials, particularly given the modest increases in social grants.
Importantly, SANZAF continues to be concerned about the lack of recognition for the role that NGOs play in responding to the needs of the poor, especially in the absence of sufficient capacity and service delivery by government departments. We urge the Minister and other spheres of Government to consider forging a meaningful and purposeful partnership with NGOs nationally for the benefit of those most in need of social-welfare services in our society.
We concur with the Minister that South Africa is still reeling from the “legacy of apartheid - a legacy of disempowerment, landlessness, inequality of opportunity, and millions of unemployed young people who cannot see a realistic prospect for a decent life.”
We further agree that confronting these realities is not about “blaming the past or denying our own shortcomings” but rather by “recognising that now is the time to do extraordinary things, in dealing with our particular development circumstances.” We urge the Government and the Minister in particular, to follow through with bold leadership and extraordinary measures in creating a society that is internationally competitive while blending wealth creation with empathy for the poorest of the poor.
SANZAF commits itself to continue supporting those initiatives of government that help take our peoples out of the cycle of poverty and dependence.
SANZAF is a proudly South African organisation, with over 36 year of service to the poor and needy, providing direct assistance to thousands of needy families through a range of poverty alleviation and development programmes.
May the Almighty guide our leaders to work always in the interests of our people.
God bless South Africa!
Ahmed Saeed Moola
South African National Zakah Fund