BIG BUDGET, LOTS OF PEOPLE TO PAY
KWAZULU-NATAL, WITH a population estimated at close on 10m people, receives the largest share of Government’s revenue for its provincial budget, 21% compared to the next most populous region, Gauteng, which gets 17%.
Just how the province plans to spend the money – R43,5bn for the latest budget – naturally attracts much interest. In KwaZulu-Natal there are huge social problems – unemployment, officially 30% of the population, and an estimated “poverty rate” of 51,9%.
Finance MEC Zweli Mkhize is directing the lion’s share towards health and education. Provincial health departments will get a 14,4% increase.
Education gets a similar increase.
Seen in broad brush strokes, few will argue with this. Until you start digging down to try and see exactly where and how the money will be spent. It turns out R24,7bn, or about 57% of the budget, is going on salaries.
For many ordinary people in KwaZulu-Natal this may be hard to fathom. Obviously a large number of provincial staff are needed to run essential services, and there’s little question that teachers and health workers need decent increases. But the public also sees and has to put up with gross inefficiencies in many departments.
But the public can perhaps draw some comfort from comments by premier S’bu Ndebele, who says a programme has been initiated to stamp out the “poor work ethic and ill-discipline” common in many provincial departments. The programme will include unannounced blitzes on various departments by members of the provincial cabinet to see for themselves just how well public servants are, or aren’t, working.