Picture: SOWETAN/THULI DLAMINI
Picture: SOWETAN/THULI DLAMINI

President Cyril Ramaphosa has positioned himself as a leader keen to root out corruption. Now his finance minister, Tito Mboweni, has given him the cash he needs to do just that.

The budget has allocated R272.9m to enable the state capture commission of inquiry to continue its work.

It has until February 2020 to do so.

Mboweni revealed little in the budget address on the allocations that would go to the departments that form part of the peace and security cluster, but his line of march was clear: "Over the past couple of years SA has been grappling with corruption. We must root this out."

He added that the National Treasury and the department of justice would work swiftly to support the establishment of the new investigating directorate in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The directorate was announced by President Ramaphosa during his state of the nation address this month. While details will only be fleshed out when the terms of reference are promulgated, the president said the unit would focus on the revelations made at the state capture commission of inquiry, other commissions of inquiry and disciplinary hearings.

The directorate will be placed in the office of NPA head Shamila Batohi.

Broadly, the Budget Review has increases for police services and law, courts and prisons. Spending will increase from R99.2bn in 2018/2019 to R104bn in 2019/2020 for the police and from R45.6bn to R48.4bn for law, courts and prisons.

Over the medium term, the budget for police services will grow annually by an average of 5.9%, while law, courts and prisons will on average rise by 6%.

Defence and state security also received an increase from R49bn to almost R50bn.

Home affairs has had its budget cut from R9.5bn in 2018/2019 to R8.4bn in 2019/2020.

The Budget Review makes it clear that departments which form part of the peace and security cluster’s medium-term priority are to implement an integrated strategy to fight crime and ensure national security.

The Integrated Justice System Modernisation Programme is a key component of that strategy. Over the medium term, R853m will be shifted from the SA Police Service to the department of justice & constitutional development, under which the programme falls.

Some R84m has been reprioritised to establish the Border Management Authority under the department of home affairs. Touching on a major campaigning issue, the Budget Review indicates that this authority will "facilitate and manage the legitimate movement of people and goods across borders and through other ports of entry".

An additional R309.2m is being allocated to Legal Aid SA to retain public defenders.

Johan Burger, a consultant for the Institute for Security Studies, says the increase to the police services budget also includes funds which will be utilised for peace and public order during the elections.

The separate budget vote item for the police’s budget provides further detail on this, saying additional funding of R180m for compensation of employees across all programmes has been made available to the department in 2019/2020 to support its activities during the elections.

These activities include escorting voting material and electoral commission employees, static protection at voting stations, and mobilising reaction teams at medium-and high-risk areas.

The separate budget vote item for the police’s budget also says the department will focus on the effective use of crime intelligence to support policing initiatives over the medium term.

This approach includes optimising the collection of intelligence, enhancing its analysis and co-ordination, ensuring effective counterintelligence, establishing security intelligence to uphold the authority of the state, and establishing a culture of performance management within the crime intelligence environment.

Burger says it is clear that the mandate came from the president’s office and that Mboweni is now ensuring that the fight against corruption gets attention on all levels.