The medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) delivered by finance minister Tito Mboweni confirmed our biggest fear — that provincial and municipal governments, who are at the coalface of service delivery, would take the hit to fund another bailout of SAA.

The fact is that the Western Cape provincial budget has been cut by R86.61m in this financial year to fund the R10.5bn bailout to SAA, through cuts to conditional grants as follows:

  • A cut of R30m to the national tertiary services grant, which is critical to us maintaining and developing healthcare services at our tertiary hospitals such as Groote Schuur, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital 
  • A cut of R23.3m to the title deeds restoration grant, which is critical to our project to restore dignity to the elderly, those with disabilities and backyard dwellers through the transfer of land ownership in the Western Cape
  • A cut of R19.7m to the HIV, TB, malaria and community outreach grant, which is critical to delivering an immediate and effective response to diseases such as TB, HIV and malaria in the Western Cape 
  • A cut of R11.5m to the statutory human resources, training and development grant, which is critical to the clinical training and supervision of our health science trainees and the increased capacity of our healthcare workforce in the Western Cape
  • A cut of R1m to the comprehensive agricultural support programme grant, which is critical to providing effective agricultural support services to smallholder and black commercial farmers, promoting and facilitating agricultural development by targeting beneficiaries of land reform, restitution and redistribution in the province 
  • A cut of R492,000 to the Ilima/Letsema projects grant, which is critical to reducing poverty and supporting food security by investing in infrastructure that assists vulnerable farming communities to increase their production output 
  • A cut of R453,000 to the mass participation and sport development grant, which is critical to the wellbeing and health of our communities by facilitating participation in sport and recreation activities, and 
  • A cut of R60,000 to the land care programme grant: poverty relief and infrastructure development, which is critical to supporting food security by working with communities to sustainably manage natural resources for agricultural production in the Western Cape.

Local governments across SA are also seeing their budgets cut by R569m to fund the SAA bailout, with conditional grant cuts of R92.6m being made to Western Cape municipalities, including the following:

  • A cut of R51.3m to the public transport network grant, which is critical to the construction and improvement of public and non-motorised transport infrastructure in municipalities in the Western Cape, 
  • A cut of R20.9m to the water services infrastructure grant, which is critical to the delivery of water and on-site sanitation projects in municipalities, especially in rural municipalities,
  • A cut of R12.3m to the neighbourhood development partnership grant, which is critical to improving spatial integration and transformation through infrastructure investment in our municipalities, and
  • A cut of R205,000 to the infrastructure skills development grant, which is critical to the recruitment of graduates into work placement programmes in municipalities in the Western Cape.

This all means the bailout for SAA will clearly compromise healthcare services, municipal infrastructure and the wellbeing and dignity of those living in the Western Cape by defunding critical projects that provide food security, support ownership of property and land transformation, and create jobs.

In the end, the bailout to SAA is unjustifiable and simply wrong. Where will national government draw the line when it comes to SAA? By opening this door, the Treasury has surely enabled further bailouts, which can now only come at the expense of the safety, dignity and jobs of the citizens of SA. We will not go down without a fight, and will continue to do everything possible to oppose budget cuts that risk compromising front-line service delivery in the Western Cape.

• Maynier is Western Cape finance and economic opportunities MEC


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