In a move to curb government expenditure and promote fiscal responsibility, the Free Market Foundation (FMF) proposes significant cuts to cabinet and government departments.
The free market’s principles advocacy group argues that the cuts will not only reduce unnecessary spending but will also allow for a more streamlined and efficient government.
The proposal follows the Treasury’s recent announcement of a need for substantial budget cuts, which sparked both support and controversy in the past few days.
While some view the cuts as a crisis, the FMF sees them as a valuable opportunity to reshape government’s role in line with constitutional obligations.
FMF’s head of policy Martin van Staden said: “While the unions and many activists may try to label budget cuts as ‘unconstitutional’, the truth is that South Africa would have a far more effective government if organs of state were solely dedicated to fulfilling constitutional obligations.”
The core of the FMF’s proposal is a drastic reduction in the size of government while ensuring that constitutional obligations are met.
Currently, government engages in expensive non-governmental activities that, according to the FMF, impede personal and community responsibility and hinder private sector growth.
The FMF recommends reducing the current 30-member cabinet to just 10 bureaucracies.
Portfolios such as basic education, higher education, health, and human settlements would be abolished entirely, with their functions devolved to municipal and provincial governments.
The social development portfolio at the central government level would oversee the administration of education, healthcare, and housing vouchers for indigent citizens, the foundation said.
The portfolios that would be scrapped under the proposal include mineral resources and energy, women, youth, and persons with disabilities, and small business administration.
Also proposed to be abolished are sport, arts, and culture, tourism, science and innovation, communications and digital technologies, agriculture, land reform, and rural development, and labour and employment.
Van Staden acknowledged that the current size of the cabinet and the multitude of official posts are often linked to political patronage.
However, he stated that the FMF believes that the proposal demonstrates that reform is possible without resorting to drastic measures like a constitutional amendment.
“One must not be naïve. We realise that South Africa’s cabinet and the dizzying number of official posts has more to do with political patronage than with constitutional government.
“However, with this proposal we seek to show the small number of responsible people in government, and society at large, that reform is possible without drastic interventions such as a constitutional amendment,” said Van Staden.