This 2011 budget has allocated much of its revenue to education, health and job creation. It seems to be a budget that aims to support the Government’s drive to create jobs and is according to Minister Gordhan inspired by Chris Hani who said, “we want to build a nation free from hunger, disease and poverty, free from ignorance, homelessness and humiliation.”
The Minister once again called on South Africans to do extraordinary things and to take bold measures to overcome the challenges that stem from the global crisis and the crisis of unemployment. The Minister highlighted the fact that 42 percent of young men and women between the ages of are unemployed! A great deal of the budget is aimed at youth employment, skilling youth and incentives to businesses to create jobs. There is also support small enterprise development. Yet, for all these positive initiatives a number of concerns arise, namely the same macro-economic measures that underpinned the failed and discredited GEAR policy remain (financial and trade liberalisation, inflation targeting, fiscal restraint, etc,).
In addition, the private sector and big business is relied on to deliver jobs even though when the economy was growing they were shedding jobs. Initiatives towards solving South Africa’s skills problems are directed at institutions that have failed such as the SETAS and the National Youth Development Agency.
Rural development and agriculture, especially rural job creation, poverty reduction, food security and the expansion of agricultural production, also received attention. However, it is also evident from this budget allocation that despite all the Minister’s talk of inclusive growth it is not applicable in the countryside - where land ownership remains skewed and untouched. The budget allocates a mere R2.2 billion for these functions and a “further R400 million for comprehensive agricultural support and land care programmes and funding to enable a further 5000 recruits into a National Rural Youth Service Corps”. This is totally inadequate and fails to prioritise rural development.
Once again, the budget is silent on land and agrarian reform. The Minister does not link rural development to agrarian reform. It is also unclear how job creation in the countryside will happen. The delinking of land and agrarian transformation from agriculture and job creation is a pattern that is also evident in the New Growth Path.
From both the New Growth Path and the Budget it appears that Government is expecting agri-business to create rural jobs. This is ironic given that agri-business has previously shed over a million agricultural jobs and displaced thousands of farm dwellers.
Moreover, there are several other aspects of the budget for rural development that requires greater clarification. Here the issue of beneficiation of agricultural production is a prime example. Developing food security and agricultural beneficiation requires that trade policy should develop the home market and local agricultural, small-scale production. The other issue that is not clarified is the role of the Rural Youth Service Corps and how they will be remunerated.
For rural poverty eradication and for rural development the question of land redistribution to poor people needs to be at the centre, as well as adequate support and extension services. This budget fails to provide the resources desperately needed to transform the countryside and it further fails to lay the basis for local food security.
Trust for Community Outreach and Education