The budget — how to steer between the extremes of patronage and prudence
In the world’s most unequal society, the budget offers an opportunity to embrace society and environmental sanity
After investigating the "massacre" (as termed by both the Democratic Alliance and ANC Youth League) of more than 100 mental health patients deinstitutionalised from Life Esidimeni so as to save R200/day each, health ombud Malegapuru Makgoba advised that a "sufficient budget should be allocated for the implementation" of proper care. But Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had raised healthcare spending only 5.6% last year and provincial hospital services faced a 2% cut (of nearly R600m). The healthcare inflation rate, according to the Medical Aid schemes, was 11% and thus in real terms Gordhan slashed provinces 13%, and cut 5.4% from the public health sector as a whole. To judge such spending decisions, journalists rely on a small army of self-described "economists", a profession whose familiarity with the actual economy was tested in 2008 and found wanting. Iraj Abedian warned Gordhan’s predecessor, Nhlanhla Nene, on the front page of Business Day that social grants should be cut "way ...
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