Budget 2021: ActionSA says NO to bailout for political parties

ActionSA has learnt from credible sources of information, that the budget to be tabled this week, Wednesday 24 February, will contain a massive increase in taxpayer funding for political parties.

This comes at a time when tax increases are being mooted to address the myriad of competing demands of our national fiscus, not least of which is the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Just last month, President Ramaphosa admitted that “we do not have the money” to help families hit by Covid-19. Against this backdrop it is unconscionable that political parties will receive a massive bailout.

Of concern to our country must be that such a proposal would be a bailout to established political parties, some of whom, have failed to meet their monthly payroll commitments or undergone major retrenchments. The problems of political parties represented in our parliament appear to be solved by this possible bailout.

South Africa is in a period of economic crisis, where the mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated businesses closing, jobs being lost and livelihoods being squeezed. This is a time when the budget needed to make aggressive cuts to expenditure to ensure that taxes could be reduced and pressure on households and businesses alleviated.

The reality of our country’s situation was repeated by all political parties during the debate on the SONA last week. While lamenting these facts, and stressing the end to bailouts of SOEs, these same parties now appear unconflicted to receiving a massive bump in their election funding from South Africans.

Even those political parties that will vote against the budget, but desperately seek the funding, will have the comfort of knowing that the ANC majority will be sufficient to pass the budget.

ActionSA will call upon all political parties in the National Assembly to either reject this budget inclusion, or refuse the funding arising from it. We will not be a part of the hypocrisy of fleecing South Africans to fund our campaign, while calling for government to cut unnecessary expenditure.

Political parties, represented in our national and provincial legislatures, already receive public funding from the South African taxpayers, running into the hundreds of millions of Rands. This takes place because the very parties that profit from this arrangement, are the ones that vote to approve the budgets. Who do they represent in that very particular decision, the citizens or themselves?

One matter that requires universal clarity is that further tax increases would only further the decline of our economy and the suffering of the South African people. This is why ActionSA launched the #CutTheFat campaign weeks ago, to bring South Africans together in a public effort to denounce any further tax increases. The results of this campaign, which saw almost 20,000 submissions from South Africans identifying areas to cut the budget instead of raising taxes, will be communicated tomorrow.

The idea that South Africans may be hit with such increases which are levied, in part, to fund the financial woes of South Africa’s political parties would be criminal if it takes place on Wednesday.

ActionSA calls upon political parties to follow our example and denounce such an inclusion in the budget and, if approved by an ANC majority, refuse the funding. This will demonstrate, with actions and not just words, the commitment of these parties to serve the people of our country.