NEWLY appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has vowed to work towards an inclusive growth and radical economic transformation without compromising the integrity of Treasury.
He has also promised to deracialise the economy and make sure Treasury works for all South Africans, not just a few
Speaking to the media on Saturday, a day after replacing Pravin Gordhan in a dramatic cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma, Gigaba promised to radically transform the economy and change the perception that Treasury only works for big business, powerful interests and international investors.
“Treasury, like all institutions of our democratic state, belongs to the people of South Africa, black and white, rich and poor, young and old, male and female, urban and rural,” Gigaba said.
“Its policies, its management, its communication, must be accessible to all South Africans. Like the nation as a whole and government itself, Treasury does not exist for the exclusive use and benefit of some with power and vested interests.”
The former Home Affairs Minister pledged to use Treasury to drive “progressive change”, support national development and drive policy orientation that reflects the need for change.
Gigaba re-assured investors and credit ratings agencies that he was committed to maintaining an investment grade credit rating for the country.
He said this was important to ensure South Africa’s cost of borrowing remained reasonable and that it continued to have access to investment capital at fair and manageable interest rates.
However, Gigaba warned ratings agencies that the country needed space to develop and implement its own policies towards its developmental goals.
“We must have the courage and the space to develop and implement policies of our choice appropriate for our particular challenges and aspirations,” he maintained.
Committing to a measured fiscal consolidation that stabilises the rise in public debt, Gigaba insisted that Treasury would keep demanding value-for-money in the use of public resources.
He warned international stakeholders and partners that while South Africa appreciated the need to retain their confidence, “we must never lose sight of the fact that we are accountable first and foremost to the people of South Africa”, who are “relying on us to use the authority and resources of government to develop this country in a way which positively and tangibly improves their quality of life.”
Gigaba pledged to use his position to implement ANC conference resolutions and government policies.
He took an indirect swipe at the ANC, saying it had failed to transform the economy meaningfully over the past 23 years.
“There is a growing consensus inside the ANC and progressive sectors of society, that if anything, the pace and depth of transformation has been too slow and in many instances, superficial. Simply put, many in our alliance feel the ANC has been too conservative,” he said.
Gigaba assured the nation that they would not seek to implement a reckless lurch in a particular direction given the current levels of mistrust among sections of society.
Instead they would stay on course in terms of the fiscal policy stance approved by government.
“We can no longer pretend that growing the economy, as it is currently constituted, will improve the lives of all South Africans. We need to change our approach. The ownership of wealth and assets remains concentrated in the hands of a small part of the population,” he stressed.
“This must change. Neither growth alone, nor transformation alone, is sufficient to deracialise our economy, and overcome poverty, unemployment and inequality. We need to do both.”
Gigaba, who has been accused of being a Gupta lackey, implored South Africans to judge him based on his actions than rumours.
“I will not betray our people by allowing individual or special interests to prevail over the public good. Every decision I make will be for the public good, and I will be responsive and accountable to the public on those decisions,” he said.