President Cyril Ramaphosa is adamant South Africa will overcome its current economic hardship, but has noted that there isn’t enough money.
Ramaphosa said: “When we looked at the kitty‚ the kitty didn’t have enough money. These are working class children that needed to be funded. These are children from poor families.”
He added: “This was the most difficult budget that our government has had to put together.”
Ramaphosa said one aspect of economic prosperity was forging unity in the divided ruling party.
“We’ve just been in this for six months. Six months does not make a summer. Six months is still a period that we are still finding one another. Even in Luthuli House‚ we’re still finding one another‚ we’re still finding out how each one of us works.”
“This hardship will not last forever and growth is going to happen. It is around the corner and soon we’ll be able to alleviate the difficult burden that our people are bearing at the moment‚” he said on Monday night during an interview.
He was speaking in the context of the VAT increase earlier this year and a series of fuel hikes in recent months‚ with another price increase looming.
“I have been really troubled by this‚” he said.
He said government wanted to soften the blow by cutting spending.
“We want to reduce government spending‚ but not to reduce the payout that we give for social grants or for social programmes‚ to reduce the wastage‚ but also to eliminate corruption. Quite a lot of the money was also stolen.”
Ramaphosa said those involved with state capture would be prosecuted‚ but not on hearsay.
“We have to work on evidence. Evidence‚ and not work on rumours or suppositions. We’ve got to work on facts.”
The Automobile Association (AA) said on Monday the outlook for August predicts that fuel prices are likely to rise again at the end of the month.
They said their data suggests a price increase of 19 cents per litre for petrol‚ 13 cents for diesel and 22c/l for illuminating paraffin.
Ramaphosa said on Monday that the VAT increase was inevitable and necessary to fund free higher education for students.
Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced in February that government needed to find R57-billion to fund free tertiary education.