Parliament passes budgets

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The National Assembly approved 34 departmental budgets yesterday, including that for defence, policing, state security, international relations, home affairs and prisons.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the main opposition party in South Africa`s Parliament, this year supported 21 of the votes, up from just 14 last year. It, however, opposed the defence, state security, prisons and police budgets; the latter in a division.     

The DA supported the foreign and home affairs budgets, as well as that of public works, science &technology and trade & industry. The party also opposed the budget of the Independent Complaints Directorate.    

DA chief whip Ian Davidson conceded that the ruling African National Congress` majority “effectively guaranteed” that all budgets would pass.

“…for the Democratic Alliance, support or opposition to budget vote is symbolic: a sign of the degree to which we believe that department is being successfully administered and delivering on its mandate,” he said.

“We have supported more budget votes this year because a new national administration has been elected to office and, we believe, should be given the chance and the support to make a positive impact on the country.

“In some instances, we have supported a budget vote but made a declaration to highlight a specific area we feel should be addressed.

“However, there are a number of areas where the DA believes this new administration is already failing. And in these areas we have either opposed the budget or called for a division: both are forms of dissent, only a division represents a more powerful form of opposition,” Davidson said.

“Significantly, this area of concern is concentrated around the criminal justice sector – a reflection of the degree to which we believe the government is failing in this critical area.

“Thus, we have opposed the Correctional Services and Defence budget votes, and called for a division on the ICD and Safety and Security budget votes.

Speaking in the second reading debate of the Appropriations Bill, DA defence spokesman David Maynier added that he could not support the budget because he could not tell to what effect the R32 billion allocated to defence would be spent.

“…the short answer to that question is: we don`t know because the Department of Defence (DoD) won`t tell us.

“But we know the defence force is in deep trouble. We have soldiers without vehicles; we have ships without sailors; we have planes without pilots; and we have military hospitals without doctors. And the result?



“We have soldiers in barracks, not in the field; we have ships alongside, not at sea; and we have aircraft in hangers, not in the air. We have an army that is overstretched; a navy that is understretched; and an air force with nothing to stretch.”