Zille leaked ‘confidential’ budget information: Treasury

 ·3 Feb 2016
Helen Zille

Treasury has accused Western Cape premier Helen Zille of leaking confidential information relating to the budget, set to be delivered by finance minister Pravin Gordhan, on 24 February.

Zille published comments made by president Jacob Zuma in a closed meeting with provincial leaders in her Inside Government newsletter.

In that meeting, Zille said that ‘premiers were told in plain language that urgent and far-reaching budget cuts are needed’.

“National Cabinet has resolved that money committed to National and Provinces for the new financial year will be substantially cut across the board, the detail of which will be shared in Minister Gordhan’s budget speech,” Zille said.

Phumza Macanda, a spokeswoman for the Treasury, told Bloomberg that Zille had been given confidential information and it was regrettable that it had been made public.

Gordhan “is already on record that we’re in a tough fiscal environment and that we will continue in the path of fiscal consolidation to demonstrate our credibility,” Macanda said in an e-mailed response to questions to Bloomberg.

In her newsletter Zille said that consequences for the Western Cape would require substantial budget cuts, running into hundreds of millions of rand, over the next three years in order to balance the budget.

“If we are to apply it in the way National Cabinet has suggested, it will have a major impact not only on our ability to spend on infrastructure, but also on personnel.

“As a minimum we will need to freeze appointments in vacant posts, and significantly scale down the number of new posts, including teachers, to serve our rapidly growing population,” Zille said.

A full copy of Zille’s newsletter can be found here.

The premier divulged that in the meeting with the president in Pretoria, “it was made very clear that Cabinet has now decided we will face further cuts because there is simply no money to give us”.

Gordhan said that South Africa’s economy will not slip into recession, however it needs to make tough decisions about how it runs its finances. The minister has his work cut out for him as he tries to prevent the country from falling to junk status.

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