TFD regressed from April 26 in 2009 (32%) to the record of May 26 in 2011 (40%), then eased to May 15 in 2012 (37%). This budget proposes the second-worst TFD, May 19 (38%).
"By far the most important budget number," Zietsman says, "is how much of the nation’s wealth government consumes, because prosperity coincides with small or contracting government and poverty with big or growing government". Stagnation with "radical transformation" dooms black South Africans to advancing only if white people are radically impoverished. Since white people are outnumbered 10 to one, every transformed rand provides beneficiaries with only 10c minus the cost of government. To justify extremism, the budget repeats trendy twaddle that "95% of wealth is in the hands of 10% of the population". It is especially reprehensible since it appears in a budget that places 38% of the wealth in government hands.
Furthermore, Gordhan knows that civil servants, through the Public Investment Corporation, are the country’s biggest owners of listed shares, and that much of the remaining wealth is in government hands through such entities as the Industrial Development Corporation, Eskom, municipalities and the Land Trust. Since the government has no balance sheet, no one knows how much wealth is "in its hands". It is obvious from data submitted to his department that the 95% mantra also bears no relation to the distribution of nongovernment wealth.
Red tape reduction, one of the preconditions for prosperity, was promised in former budgets and state of the nation addresses, in the National Development Plan and by diverse ministers. The Cabinet promised it through socioeconomic impact assessments. Why was the empty promise not repeated in this budget?
Instead of reversing the tsunami of regulatory diarrhoea, the minister wants to proceed with "twin peaks" financial sector control — every citizen’s financial affairs will be taxed and regulated by a gigantic new bureaucracy. We know from the Financial Services Board fiasco it will be antitransformation and yield no identifiable benefits.
"When will they ever learn?" asked Pete Seeger in the world’s most celebrated protest song — Where have all the flowers gone.
• Louw is executive director of the Free Market Foundation
This article was first published in Business Day on 1 March 2017