South Africa will once again be spending more on protecting the president, former presidents, their spouses, the deputy president, “persons related” to the president and deputy president, and “local and international dignitaries” than on land reform.
This came to light in the national budget released by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on February 26, which shows that the budget of R3.44 billion for VIP protection and related activities is larger than the R2.93 billion set aside for land reform for the 2020/21 financial year.
And the difference between the two allocations is expanding: the budget for protection and security has grown 9.34%, while that for land reform has been reduced by 5.8%.
Although the land reform budget is expected to increase over the medium term, it is not projected to overtake that of protection and security in the next two financial years.
This trend follows a pattern where the budget for protection and security has once again outsized that for land reform.
If the trend continues, the budget for protection and security will exceed that for land reform by just under R400 million in the 2022/23 period.
This is a big change from when the government spent about R487 million more on land reform than protection and security in 2016/17.
The budgets compared
|Protection & Security||R2 546m||R2 839m||R3 000m||R3 149m||R3 659m||R3 659m||R3 826m|
|Land Reform||R3 059m||R2 455m||R2 736m||R3 113m||R2 930m||R3 147m||R3 431m|
The rise in the bill to keep the president, the deputy president, dignitaries and related parties safe comes as the government is going through a period of belt-tightening.
Mboweni wants to cut R167 billion in spending and is pushing to do so through big cuts to the public wage bill.
The cut in the land reform budget comes as government is under concerted pressure to accelerate land reform.
Last month President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address that addressing the land issue would be a priority for the government.
“This year, we implement key recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture to accelerate land redistribution, expand agricultural production and transform the industry.”
The controversial issue around changing the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation would also be addressed urgently.
“Government stands ready – following the completion of the parliamentary process to amend Section 25 of the Constitution – to table an expropriation bill that outlines the circumstances under which expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible,” he said.