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State of the Nation Address: Expensive promises

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

In anticipation of Pres. Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address, the Solidarity trade union today said that it would like to hear fewer assurances of greater government spending in the speech. In particular, the union will keep an eye on the implications it holds for tax-payers, cultural minorities and job security.

According to Piet le Roux, senior researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), the State of the Nation Address cannot be viewed in isolation from its financial consequences. ‘It is a fact that South African taxpayers are under severe pressure. The more Pres. Zuma promises to do and spend, the greater the pressure will be on the taxpayer – a pressure that will also result in increases in government debt.’

Le Roux points out the taxpayers’ scepticism do not stem from an unwillingness to contribute to the common good. ‘Although South Africans are prepared to pay taxes to the extent that it is in the public interest, they are also convinced that their tax money is currently achieving the opposite. Tax money is used to create a culture of dependency on the state; it is used to promote the creation of instant millionaires through Black Economic Empowerment transactions; it is used to pass and enforce harmful legislation; and it is used to undermine law and order by elevating race to the most important criterion for appointments in the public service. In addition, the government undermines taxpayers’ businesses and their job security, adding further pressure on taxpayers’ ability to fulfil their financial obligations.’

Le Roux responded positively to the announcement that the State of the Nation Address will this year simultaneously be available in 11 languages. ‘It is important to stress that strong links exist between promoting the shared interests of all South Africans and recognising their cultural diversity.’ However, Le Roux believes that this nod to cultural diversity stands in stark contrast to the undermining of cultural diversity in many other areas in South Africa, such as education where government is pressuring organisations to reflect the national racial composition. ‘It would be interesting to see how the multilingualism of the State Address would compare with its actual content.’

Click here to view the Solidarity Research Institute’s official press release.

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