Exorbitant fruitless and wasteful expenditure by State departments and SOEs, highlighted by the AG, are a critical hindrance in ensuring the most vulnerable in society have access to housing, education and health.
Attempts to restore credibility of State institutions and SOEs and the various commissions of inquiry established to investigate maladministration and corruption are a positive trend. However, the slow pace of criminal proceedings, which appear to be directly related to lack of resources and skills, is highly concerning. The extent of corruption reported directly impacts on the State’s duty to promote and protect rights in the Bill of Rights.
Uncertainty regarding proposed amendments to the property clause in the Constitution to provide for expropriation without compensation creates tension and arguably stifles investment confidence in South Africa pending legal certainty. This proposal adds to policy uncertainty impacting on property rights.
The dire state of provincial departments of healthcare and education as detailed by the AG’s report is highly concerning and will contribute to further inequality in South Africa. The proposed NHI Fund does not address these urgent issues and is fundamentally flawed.
The State’s attempts to amend the EE Act to provide for sectoral numerical targets of people from “designated groups” in all occupational levels indicates the failure to acknowledge true inequality indicators that urgently need to be addressed.
The outcomes of the various commissions of inquiry in 2019 and the President’s action in this instance will be a key driver. With the new NDPP, there is confidence that the credibility of the NPA will be restored but realistically, this will take time. A critical factor to monitor in 2019 would be the NPA’s commitment to prosecute State capture-related matters and those involved with the lootingof VBS Bank. It is important for the public to regain confidence inthe criminal justice system – not only relating to corruption in the public sector but also in the private sector.
Another key driver to monitor in 2019 would be extent the State departments and SOEs comply with the AG’s Report and strengthen their governance loopholes. This will be a direct measure of the State’s intention to adhere to accountability and transparency.
Overall, the State’s attempt to address the slow pace of economic growth and high rate of unemployment in South Africa would also be a major driver, as there is urgent need to address the ever- expanding gap in economic wealth.