We at the Community Chest have taken note of the recent cabinet reshuffle announced by President Jacob Zuma last week and more recently the downgrade to South Africa’s long-term foreign currency sovereign rating to sub investment grade or ‘junk status’. The Community Chest is concerned about the negative effects this has on the poor, as any increase to the cost of our currency results in higher debt repayment fees, higher food and transport costs, as well as an increase in inflation and long-term unemployment.
Whilst we fully recognise the constitutional prerogative of the President to decide on the members of cabinet, we note with alarm that these appointments are being made at a time of great division in our body politic, as well as at a time of great concern over the state of the South African economy.
All the information provided to the public about this cabinet reshuffle suggests that it was not made with the best interest of South Africa in mind and that it will have an adverse effect on the fiscal stability, economic welfare and the overall development of our country. It also comes across as a highly divisive set of decisions, which does not seek to build the sense of national unity we are so desperately in need of as a country at this stage.
Whilst we seek to believe that the best of intentions are behind this reshuffle, statements made by leading politicians and economists have indicated that this recent reshuffle will diminish the ability of our government to execute its social mandate, and will reduce trust in the legitimacy of key democratic institutions.
We are further concerned that the frequent retiring and hiring of ministers adds increased financial burden to the government salary costs, benefits cost and pension payments – all this at a time when all of us are asked to be fiscally prudent.
In addition, it appears that Ministers who have a public track record of bad corporate governance seem to have been retained, whilst Ministers who have worked extremely hard to secure our fiscal wellbeing as a country have been targeted in this recent cabinet reshuffle.
What does this mean for NGO’s? As it stands, it is hard to raise money for the important work being done by NGOs in this kind of environment and economy. It also further means that, within these restrictive economic conditions, NGOs will have an increase of encounters with people and communities who have been adversely affected by this current crisis. And that implies additional costs to already struggling NGOs.
Notwithstanding, the Community Chest remains resolute in its commitment to help build the South Africa that came into being in 1994. Our commitment is to serve the vision of helping to build a just, free, equal, well governed and prosperous society. We will continue to serve the development needs of all the people of this great country and with our donor partners will seek to only do that which is in the best interest of securing such a society.
We remain fully committed to use our resources and skills in service of reducing inequalities, addressing poverty, and creating an entrepreneurial mind-set toward job-creation. We recognise the vital importance of a country with a fully inclusive economy.
We call on the South African government to lead with integrity and wisdom and to provide the citizens of this land with a secure and prosperous future in which they can live out their personal and global aspirations.
We remain committed to the ideals contained in the Constitution of South Africa and to the well-being of all its people. We call on government to provide the leadership that will realise the enormous potential of our country.