MP ousted to make place for Molefe

CityPress - - Front Page - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI, S’THEMBILE CELE and SETUMO STONE news@city­press.co.za

The in­trigue sur­round­ing the im­pend­ing swear­ing-in of for­mer Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Brian Molefe as an MP deep­ened when City Press learnt that an ANC MP, Abram Mu­dau, was pushed to re­sign from Par­lia­ment so that Molefe could come in as a re­place­ment.

The ANC in North West had also claimed that they nom­i­nated Molefe be­cause he be­longed to a branch in Madibeng in that prov­ince.

But lead­ers of the branch in Ward 29 in Hart­beespoort yes­ter­day de­nied that he was on its books.

Sev­eral sources told City Press that Molefe’s al­leged branch mem­ber­ship was a con­coc­tion to jus­tify parachut­ing him to Par­lia­ment, de­spite the fact that he didn’t ap­pear on any pro­vin­cial list of ANC mem­bers in line to be de­ployed.

It is widely spec­u­lated that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma wants to ap­point Molefe as a min­is­ter or deputy min­is­ter, pos­si­bly in the fi­nance or en­ergy de­part­ments, dur­ing an an­tic­i­pated Cabi­net reshuf­fle.

The branch lead­ers in­sisted that Molefe was not known in ANC struc­tures in North West as he was from Pre­to­ria, de­spite own­ing a prop­erty in Hart­beespoort. A branch of­fice bearer con­firmed to City Press that Molefe had never been an ac­tive mem­ber in that branch. “It is not true. We only learnt about him be­ing in this branch through state­ments. We don’t know him.”

This was cor­rob­o­rated by an­other se­nior ANC mem­ber in the prov­ince.

“I can tell you that the pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (PEC) has a ten­dency of ma­nip­u­lat­ing pro­cesses. It is fraud and cor­rup­tion. But we know that his mem­ber­ship will be im­posed by the PEC on that ward af­ter the fact.”

How­ever, ANC North West sec­re­tary Dakota Le­goete said: “We want to cau­tion our mem­bers and sup­port­ers about in­di­vid­u­als who seek to mis­lead them and dis­tort in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing com­rade Brian’s mem­ber­ship. It is dis­ap­point­ing that some within the ANC are spread­ing the false­hood that [Molefe] is not a mem­ber of the ANC in our prov­ince or a res­i­dent of Bokone Bophir­ima.

“For the record, com­rade Brian is an ANC mem­ber in good stand­ing of Ward 29 in Hart­beespoort in the Madibeng lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity.”

ANC in­sid­ers, in­clud­ing MPs, said that Mu­dau was among of­fice bear­ers who had been forced to sign post­dated res­ig­na­tion let­ters some time last year. Mu­dau did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment yes­ter­day.

City Press re­ported last year that MPs were be­ing forced to sign post­dated res­ig­na­tions in case the pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship wanted to re­move them.

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe later in­ter­vened and put a stop to the prac­tice.

Par­lia­ment has con­firmed that Molefe would be sworn in as an MP.

De­spite ef­forts to put pres­sure on him, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han was not ex­pected to pro­nounce any new rad­i­cal eco­nomic spend­ing in this year’s bud­get.

Staffers said Gord­han was go­ing about his busi­ness as usual, even af­ter the news about Molefe was an­nounced on Fri­day.

“He was calm. If there was any­thing that af­fected him, it did not show in his de­meanour,” said a source close to Trea­sury.

On Fri­day, Gord­han met with the board of SA Air­ways and on Satur­day, he and his team were at work fi­nal­is­ing prepa­ra­tions for the bud­get speech.

City Press un­der­stands that the bud­get, to be tabled on Wed­nes­day, is go­ing to be busi­ness as usual in as far as the cur­rent rev­enue spend­ing is con­cerned.

This is mainly be­cause South Africa’s debt lev­els have been ris­ing over the years and cur­rently stand at a mas­sive R1.9 tril­lion.

Also, there is no sense of what the con­crete plan is to achieve the rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion agenda an­nounced by Zuma.

In­sid­ers said the fact that Gord­han em­pha­sised the coun­try’s need to re­duce deficit by 2.4% over the next three years, as well as cut­ting the ex­pen­di­ture ceil­ing by R25 bil­lion, meant there was lit­tle room to move to cater for ad­di­tional spend­ing.

There have been con­cerns about whether Gord­han would be pushed into a corner to do a bal­anc­ing act and tweak the bud­get af­ter Zuma’s state of the na­tion ad­dress, in which the pres­i­dent spoke of how gov­ern­ment would start a new chapter of rad­i­cal so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

There have also been other ef­forts to force Gord­han out of his po­si­tion, in­clud­ing the in­sti­tu­tion of crim­i­nal charges last year, which were later with­drawn.

On Fri­day, the ANC Youth League called for the dis­missal of Gord­han and the re­struc­tur­ing of Trea­sury.

The league’s call is con­sis­tent with that of other Zuma al­lies, who share the nar­ra­tive that Trea­sury – and, by im­pli­ca­tion, Gord­han – are block­ing trans­for­ma­tion projects. I can tell you that the PEC has a ten­dency of ma­nip­u­lat­ing pro­cesses. It is fraud and cor­rup­tion

This de­spite the fact that all min­is­ters and their di­rec­tors-gen­eral are in­volved in the draw­ing up of the bud­get that is ap­proved by Cabi­net.

Last week, Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane said Trea­sury’s wings needed to be clipped.

How­ever, it is un­likely that the bud­get would be used to ap­pease Gord­han’s de­trac­tors.

A Trea­sury in­sider said: “The bud­get is un­der duress and there is no space for ad­di­tional spend­ing. Sixty per­cent goes to pub­lic ser­vants’ salaries and the other chunk to pay­ing off debt. There is no room for ex­tra spend­ing and the bud­get is un­likely to al­lo­cate money for new things.

“The bud­get it­self can do noth­ing to pro­mote the project, other than maybe through tax to pro­vide cer­tain ben­e­fits. In an en­vi­ron­ment where there is no money, we can only in­crease taxes, but these are also un­der pres­sure.”

How­ever, it is un­der­stood that none of the strate­gic in­stru­ments for Zuma’s rad­i­cal plans out­lined last week would re­quire Trea­sury to dig deeper into its pock­ets.

The only cost as­so­ci­ated with Zuma’s big plans is catered for in the ex­ist­ing depart­ment of trade and in­dus­try’s bud­get for the Black In­dus­tri­al­ist Pro­gramme.

“The money is al­ready avail­able. That bud­get will have to be rolled over be­cause not enough peo­ple came for­ward since its in­cep­tion. There is noth­ing in the bud­get that will in­tro­duce new spend­ing in terms of this rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion,” said an in­sider.

The only other big project an­nounced by Zuma that would re­quire re­sources is the Moloto Road up­grade.

Zuma said that the SA Na­tional Roads Agency had started with the plan­ning phase of the R4.5 bil­lion project to up­grade the road.

He added that South Africa had signed a co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment with the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China to build the Moloto Rail De­vel­op­ment Cor­ri­dor. But later state­ments raised eye­brows with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, who said that spe­cific de­tails re­gard­ing procur­ing ser­vices for the up­grade should be left to gov­ern­ment tech­nocrats, rather than be influenced by po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence.

Those in the know say Gord­han was not stressed at all. If any­thing, it is the ANC gov­ern­ment he rep­re­sents whose back is against the wall. For one, the gov­ern­ing party can’t risk rais­ing taxes for the poor and work­ing class, as this could trig­ger a po­lit­i­cal re­ac­tion.

“Rais­ing taxes will only have to tar­get high­in­come earn­ers,” said an in­sider.

As such, Gord­han could an­nounce tax on high-in­come earn­ers and even a wealth tax.

Gord­han is also ex­pected to out­line the con­sol­i­da­tion of all de­vel­op­ment fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions (DFIs).

The aim is to con­sol­i­date cap­i­tal avail­able for de­vel­op­ment, thus cre­at­ing fewer but more pow­er­ful en­ti­ties un­der one roof, in line with Zuma’s plans of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

These in­clude pro­vin­cial and na­tional en­ti­ties with di­verse prop­erty hold­ings, among them the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, the In­dus­trial Bank of South­ern Africa, the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund, the In­de­pen­dent De­vel­op­ment Trust and the Na­tional Youth De­vel­op­ment Agency.

They will have to be ra­tio­nalised, which means oth­ers will be done away with and many boards dis­solved to cre­ate one pow­er­house.

Gord­han made Trea­sury’s in­ten­tions clear at last year’s bud­get when he flagged the fact that some en­ti­ties had over­lap­ping man­dates, adding that the merger of hous­ing DFIs was al­ready in progress.

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