WSF (1999): “ANC’s 1999 Budget Makes the Bosses Smile”

WSF (1999): “ANC’s 1999 Budget Makes the Bosses Smile”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 5, number 1, second quarter 1999. Complete PDF is here

A number of progressive organisations have claimed that the 1999 budget was a “people’s budget”. For example, the South African Communist Party issued a statement saying that the budget “is one more decisive step in the ongoing transformation programme of the ANC-led alliance”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Delivered in Cape Town on the 17 February, the ANC’s budget made the bosses jump for joy. First of all, it cuts tax on the companies by 5%. This means that the bosses will get R2.5 billion more in profits.


This is directly in line with the GEAR programme of the government. GEAR is committed to promoting the profits and the interests of the bosses. GEAR is based on the ridiculous idea that more profits for the bosses will mean more jobs and wages for everyone else. One of GEAR’s main ideas to give bosses more profits is to shift the tax burden from the bosses by cutting company tax and raising VAT and PAYE. The so-called “tax breaks” for the poor in the 1999 budget are a fraud. If you get R20,000 a year you will get a tax break of R195 – about R13 a month. What a joke. The bosses get R2.5 billion and we get R13.


Meanwhile, the government is committed to a “budget deficit” – fancy talk for a freeze on government spending. In terms of GEAR, the government wants to try and spend less money every year. This is part of the plan to help the bosses make more money. In the 1999 budget, the freeze on spending means that actual spending on schools, roads etc. will fall. Yet another example of a broken promise. Who would think poor schools could become worse? They are set to get a lot worse with Trevor Manuel’s Adjustment Appropriation Bill. Quietly passed in November 1998, this anti-worker law will cut the education budget by R300 million over the next two years, the health budget by between R100 million and R700 million, and welfare between R100 million and R200 million. Obviously this means that terrible social services will get worse, and that there will be – despite government promises – mass layoffs of nurses, teachers and other public sector workers.


Meanwhile government has agreed to spend R30 billion on weapons over the next 15 years. This useless machinery for murder is a waste of money. Money is going to arms dealers and not to the needs of the working class.


Two mistakes must be dealt with. The first mistake is the idea that “there is no money”. Actually, there is a lot of money in South Africa and across the world. The problem is that the bosses – not the working class – control all the money. The second mistake is the idea that a new group of politicians will do a better job of running the country. In fact, the budget is the way it is because THE BOSSES RULE SOUTH AFRICA. It makes no difference which politician heads this or that Ministry. Parliament bows down to the money-men, the fat-cats. The only way forward is a mass struggle for better conditions, with the aim of winning real workers control over the wealth of the world. We should draw up a workers budget and implement it through a programme of mass action.