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Daily Podcast – November 01, 2023


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Daily Podcast – November 01, 2023

1st November 2023

By: Halima Frost
Senior Writer


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For Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I’m Halima Frost.

Making headlines: Painful revisions in Medium-term Budget; Ramaphosa officially appoints Gcaleka as the new Public Protector; And, Court finds Nzimande ignored order by appointing Unisa administrator



Painful revisions in Medium-term Budget


Treasury has been forced to make painful revisions to the latest Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, which updates government’s spending plans over the next three years, after its expectations in the February Budget turned out to be over-optimistic.

Government now expects to earn almost R57-billion less in taxes than it previously forecast. Much lower commodity prices (due in part to a Chinese demand) hit mining profits, while loadshedding, Transnet’s woes and weak local growth also weighed on other tax income.

Treasury also didn’t fully budget for a 7.5% public sector wage hike, which has added billions to government spending this year. Some 55 000 civil servants now earn more than R1-million a year.

Concerns about South Africa’s economic and fiscal outlook – along with its greylisting, its controversial relationship with Russia and much higher interest rates across the world – have pushed higher the cost of government borrowing. Investors are now demanding much higher interest rates from SA: government’s weighted cost of borrowing has increased from 8.3% in February to 9.5% in October.

This has increased debt service costs by R52-billion above the budgeted amount. Out of every R5 collected in tax, R1 is now being paid to lenders. Government is now spending more on paying debt than on basic education or on health. Debt-services costs are expected to grow by almost 9% per year.

Government debt is now expected to peak at almost 78% of GDP – from a previous forecast of 73% – by 2025/26 – much higher than in most emerging markets.


Ramaphosa officially appoints Gcaleka as the new Public Protector;

Kholeka Gcaleka is the new Public Protector. Her seven-year term starts on Wednesday, following her role as former Deputy Public Protector since June last year. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa didn't have a choice in the matter after the National Assembly approved an Ad Hoc Committee to Select a Public Protector recommendation for Gcaleka's appointment with a narrow margin after a heated debate.

The nomination received just four votes more than the required threshold of 240, with the ANC, IFP, AIC, NFP, GOOD party, and Al Jamah-ah supporting her appointment.


And, Court finds Nzimande ignored order by appointing Unisa administrator

In a week in which revelations emerged of the government paying R269.7-million to "ghost students" monthly, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande blatantly ignored court orders on placing Unisa under administration.

In a scathing judgment in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Acting Judge André le Grange questioned whether a bleak time had emerged in South Africa's democracy when a minister flagrantly disregarded court orders in executing "unlawful" decisions and accused Nzimande of not being a man of his word. 

Today, the High Court ordered Nzimande to rescind his directives, dated October 27, that Unisa be placed under administration, a decision that violated an August 27 ruling stopping the minister from appointing an administrator at Unisa for what he said was "financial mismanagement" at the 450 000-student institution.

The alleged mismanagement, Nzimande stated in an August 4 letter to the university's council, included a R176-million wage bill that he said amounted to 78% of the institution's total expenditure.


That’s a roundup of news making headlines today

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