No budget sweeteners to ease poverty and squalor in Alexandra

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    Tito Mboweni’s budget has no sweeteners to eradicate poverty and squalor in the township.


    The only solace the people of Alexandra can take from Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech is the increases he announced for social grant payments.

    For many, this has become the only livelihood. The people of this community, who suffer the triple effects of unemployment, poverty and crime like their counterparts elsewhere, do not have much to cheer about for this budget speech.

    Even market analyst Chris Gilmour admitted that this budget speech did not provide much hope that the people of Alexandra and other poor areas could one day rise above the squalor that has become a hallmark of their daily lives. Gilmour, who was invited by Vodacom to dissect and unpack Mboweni’s offering, said, “I honestly see no sweeteners in the speech besides and beyond the increments he announced for social grants.”

    He said during the budget speech at the Crown Plaza Hotel, “To me, there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the poverty, unemployment and crime tunnel for the people that live only a stone’s throw from Africa’s richest enclave that is Sandton.

    “The budget never centred on addressing the issues of unemployment, poverty and crime but was more of trying to salvage the country and move it away from the mess created by the rampant corruption alluded to the previous administration.”

    This, Gilmour said, could be attributed to the offering of a conditional lifeline to state-owned entities such as Eskom, SABC, SAA and many others. The minister was forthright toward Eskom and offered them a bailout, on the condition that they appoint what he called a chief restructuring officer to help with the desired unbundling of the country’s power utility.

    According to Gilmour, the budget seeks to maintain the current status quo of employment levels with creating opportunities for new jobs but striving to save the current ones by offering to keep the SOEs afloat though, through stricter control mechanisms.

    He said even the current land debate does not augur well for the people of Alexandra who are also fighting for the restoration of land property rights in the township. The policy and implementation thereof are still vague. “No one will invest in the reconstruction and development of Alex without a clear investment policy and an august path of the renewal of township which goes along with the desire of the people of Alex to have their land and property rights restored.”

    This could be one path of many in the direction of the eradication of poverty and the uprooting of the inhabitants from the squalor they experience on a daily basis in the township, Gilmour concluded.