The Democratic Alliance (DA) called for Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni to clarify “where the R100 billion Covid-19 relief fund for jobs and businesses is, and what it is being spent on”.
This comes after Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced during the quarterly labour force survey on Tuesday morning, that unemployment stood at a record-breaking 30.1%, which is the highest ever recorded in South Africa and edges closer to 40% on the expanded definition.
Mboweni is set to deliver an emergency budget address on Wednesday at 3pm, which will explain how government is adjusting its spending in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the DA said Stats SA’s report on the rise in unemployment represented the state of the economy before the Covid-19 pandemic and the full effect of the national lockdown.
“The latest reports brings the total to 7.1 million people being unemployed in the country, which means an additional 344,000 people,” said DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis.
Hill-Lewis said the full economic devastation of the lockdown would only be reflected in statistics for the second quarter, which will be released later this year.
“When the minister of finance delivers his emergency budget speech tomorrow, he must table a ‘resilience budget’ aimed at helping South Africans brace for the full impact of the lockdown crisis on our economy.
“The emergency budget must make clear where the R100 billion promised relief package for ‘jobs and businesses’ is, and what it is being spent on so far. We have seen no evidence of this spending,” he added.
The MP said Mboweni must commit the government to a programme of fundamental economic reform to reposition the country’s economy for growth.
“Without this reform, our slow decline and greater impoverishment will continue. The African National Congress (ANC) government has refused to implement comprehensive economic structural reform, choosing instead to retain the status quo despite clear evidence that we are headed for an economic head-on collision.
“With each day that passes without reform, South Africa edges closer to a full-blow sovereign debt crisis. It’s unfortunate that the price for this will be borne by the same unemployed South Africans whom the ANC is choosing to ignore,” he concluded.