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Parliament, the Budget and Poverty in South Africa. A Shift in Power

A Shift in Power

Len Verwey

Publication Year: 2009

Effective and transparent government budgeting is vital to any democracy. In South Africa, massive poverty, inequality and unemployment remain, despite the successful political transformation, citizens and Parliament have a particularly important role to play in shaping budget policy and overseeing its implementation. South Africa reached a crossroads in fiscal governance when it passed the Money Bills Amendment Act in 2009, a law which granted Parliament strong powers to amend the budget prepared by the executive. This publication explores the content of the new law as well as the challenges and opportunities arising from it. It also discusses the role of Parliament in ensuring pro-poor budgeting. Good fiscal governance is too important for the wellbeing of South Africans to not be a part of our public conversations.

Published by: African Books Collective

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Foreword

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p. iii-iii

In April 2009, President Kgalema Motlanthe, the third president of democratic South Africa, signed a bill into law allowing Parliament to amend the national budget. This was the culmination of a campaign by unions, civil society organisations and political parties to create budget amendment powers for Parliament, a...

Contents

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Contributors

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pp. v-viii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

Since the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa has undergone considerable self-assessment and restructuring. In addition to a range of social and economic challenges that had to be urgently addressed, it was also necessary to bring about the fundamental restructuring of democratic institutions and the public sector....

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Chapter One. PRO-POOR BUDGETING: GENERAL REFLECTIONS AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN SITUATION

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pp. 6-25

The ANC government that came to power in 1994, after the country’s first democratic elections, faced a range of social, economic and institutional challenges. These included high levels of inequality, poverty and unemployment, an economy which had performed poorly in preceding years, precarious public finances resulting from a high debt burden, and a cumbersome bureaucracy which...

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Chapter Two. SOUTH AFRICA’S NEW PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET PROCESS: AN INITIAL ASSESSMENT

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pp. 26-41

In the wake of its transition to democracy, South Africa had an opportunity to reshape the role of its legislatures in a fundamental way. The apartheid-era Parliaments had been feeble and discredited rubber stamps (Kotzé 1996). In contrast, the country’s new constitutional framework promised “dynamic and pro-active legislatures” (Murray and Nijzink 2002: 1). The first democratic Parliament abolished...

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Chapter Three. BUDGET OVERSIGHT AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

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pp. 42-61

Poverty and inequality are among the major challenges facing South African society, and the major thrust of policy in all spheres of government. In his 2002 state of the nation address, former president Thabo Mbeki reaffirmed government’s commitment to poverty alleviation through concrete, time-specific programmes, and called on all organs of state to reflect on their role in promoting...

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Chapter Four. BUDGET OVERSIGHT AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN BUDGET OFFICE

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pp. 62-75

Accountability is an essential aspect of good democratic governance and refers broadly to the inherent responsibility of governments to account for their performance and conduct. Legislatures, with formal powers of oversight, representation and legislation, are a key dimension of accountability....

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Chapter Five. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN BUDGETING: OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED BY NEW AMENDMENT POWERS

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pp. 76-94

Before South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994, most citizens were excluded from meaningful participation in public and representative institutions. Policy, legislative processes and decision-making in both the executive and Parliament were often archaic and secretive, serving to entrench the discrimination and inequities of the apartheid state....

Appendix

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pp. 95-96

Endnotes

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pp. 97-102

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781920409340
Print-ISBN-13: 9781920118914

Page Count: 110
Publication Year: 2009