South Africa already gets the biggest chunk of the money from SACU’s Common Revenue Pool, understandably so because it exports most goods to the other SACU member states whose trade figures are much lesser.
In recent years, South Africans have awaken and called for a complete overhaul in the manner in which SACU revenue is shared amongst member states. As usual, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland were the biggest winners when it comes to money being dished out, in actual fact they take home a double pay-check.
Firstly, the agreement relating to taxes and relaxation of excise duties when doing trade with South Africa means they can spend less to import goods from South Africa and still get a bumper bonus when it’s time to share SACU’s revenue.
South Africa on the hand has seen that figures are not adding up as they should and are now in the process of correcting the so-called ‘historical imbalance’.
President Jacob Zuma and his team, including deputy finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas who was a central figure during Zuma’s near-impeachment saga earlier this year, was also part of the delegation.
Jonas is one of those who claimed they were offered a job by Zuma’s alleged cronies-The Guptas.
Zuma and his cohorts are visiting the SACU member states under the pretext of holding consultations on SACU matters because of its position as incumbent SACU chair, but we all know the visits are meant to discuss the imminent overhaul of the sharing formula.
Economists have warned that should the formula be altered, the smaller states would suffer immensely and their revenue coffers will be depleted. This will mean reduced money for developmental purposes to improve the lives of millions living in the four smaller SACU member states.
It is fair to say that South Africa is not wrong to demand its fair share, after all, the revenue from the common pool must be shared equitably between all nations.
In today’s world there is no free meal, therefore countries should find creative ways to make money instead of depending on handouts from other states.
South Africa’s economic woes do not make things easier either, the situation has forced that country’s government to tighten all loose screws and collect every penny on offer, but at what cost does this come?
The smaller nations have argued that despite South Africa being the biggest exporter of goods to the other member states, they are the ones who ensure that South Africa’s multibillion dollar business sector thrives through the procurement and goods and services.
Most of the SACU member states are so dependent on South Africa that they will not be able to sustain themselves should South Africa decide to close its borders.
In real terms, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland all consume mainly what they do not produce. Many of them have been independent for decades but they have failed to attain self-sustainability levels. They continue to import everything from electricity, maize, toilet paper and other basic commodities.
Many have asked, even here in Namibia: “When will we stop depending on South Africa?”
The dependency syndrome is so extreme that any downward movement in the South African markets directly impacts the other member states. This situation is untenable, economic forecasts have indicated that SACU, and SADC as a whole is destined for a calamity if South Africa’s ability to produce surplus goods and services for export purposes dwindles.
Except for South Africa, SACU revenue accounts for a relatively large portion of the national budget of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia.
It is time Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia work towards self-sustainability, it’s unacceptable that these country continue to be babies who are merely staying alive thanks to South Africa’s ability to produce surplus breastmilk to breastfeed its neighbors.
The question is, with the current global movement such as climate change and economic hardships, how long can South Africa continue feeding the region?
South Africa’s has its own electricity crisis, yet it continues to supply electricity to its neighbors, how sure are we Eskom will not pull the plug anytime soon?
Is that the time when we want to be running around helplessly trying to put resources together while we have enough time now to do it?
With the high prevalence of systemic corruption in our countries, the future looks bleak because resources earmarked to bring about development that will alleviate poverty are channeled to the pockets of a minority bourgeoisie class at the expense of the masses.
The free market system that is in place which act as a smokescreen for capitalism does not make things easier either. The winner takes all concept of fighting for state contracts is not a healthy situation because those in the inner circle continue to have an upper hand.
As much as I agree with the review of the revenue sharing formula so that South Africa can get what is duly due to them, this must serve as a wakeup call to our leaders in Namibia who are obsessed with opulence to get their act together, dump the boardroom fights, get their priorities right and work on developing the country.