Parliament has the final say on the Budget

Ahead of the Minister of Finance’s Budget Speech tomorrow, I’ve just published a piece in The Conversation, explaining the core components of South Africa’s annual Budget and the fact that Parliament ultimately has the final say on each of these – subject to a public consultation process. The full process is guided by the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (2009), which I worked with extensively when I was at the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The conclusion of the article, that Parliament’s oversight may provide some reassurance in the current political context, is less comforting in light of an article published today which reveals that a vacancy has suddenly been created on the standing committee of finance. The last time that happened was when the then ANC whip of the committee, Des Van Rooyen, was notoriously made Minister of Finance for a weekend. It appears likely that Brian Molefe, former CEO of Eskom who is named dozens of times in the Public Protector’s ‘State of Capture’ Report, will be appointed to this vacancy – having been surreptitiously added to the ANC’s list of MPs. And this in turn may be a stepping stone to his appointment to cabinet in a last ditch attempt, by a faction close to the president, to take control of public finances for nefarious ends.

Jacob Zuma, Stratfor and Naspers

I just had a piece published by Pambazuka, in which I critically assess claims that President Jacob Zuma is a victim of ‘white monopoly capital’ and ‘Western intelligence agencies’; the evidence suggests a very different conclusion.

A few investigative newspaper articles, combined with Stratfor emails leaked by Wikileaks suggest a relatively close relationship between Zuma and Stratfor (an infamous, private agency closely linked to US intelligence agencies). Furthermore, Zuma has continually taken actions – even against his own party’s policies – that have significantly benefitted Naspers (an oligopolistic operator, originating in apartheid, in the media space, with a virtual monopoly in paid TV in South Africa). Finally, Zuma has made a number of statements himself that appear to demonise poor South Africans: depicting them as lazy and entitled. This last point also contradicts the resurrected narrative of ‘radical economic transformation’, on which I will publish a separate piece soon.

The Wikileaks cables are a treasure trove on the Zuma-Stratfor link and it seems appropriate to ask why there has been so little reporting on that. Similar issues arise around the Naspers link.

I copy-in below a version of the Pambazuka article with hyperlinks for those who are interested in sources and reading further.

Continue reading “Jacob Zuma, Stratfor and Naspers”

Placeholder: A South African economics curriculum

In some previous posts [here and here] I discussed my experience of, and thoughts about, the University of Cape Town (UCT)’s undergraduate economics curriculum. I committed to writing a final, constructive post on what I think a South African economics curriculum (not particularly limited to UCT, or undergraduates) should look like.

That intention was partly overtaken by events and time constraints, but mainly I decided that the question deserved more lengthy treatment than just a blog post. So I am drafting a paper, which I hope to present at a few, relevant conferences/workshops, and once that draft is completed I will post a summary here.