Gord­han’s hope­less mis­sion

CityPress - - Voices -

The mood as Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han pre­sented his bud­get on Wednes­day was down­cast. He had very lit­tle room to ma­noeu­vre be­cause of in­creas­ing debt, lack of eco­nomic growth and poor rev­enue col­lec­tion, which fell short by R30 bil­lion.

But the ele­phant in the room as he de­liv­ered the speech was the over­whelm­ing stench of dirty pol­i­tics in the Na­tional As­sem­bly. Gord­han some­how re­mained up­beat de­spite in­tense spec­u­la­tion that he is a dead man walking.

Last year, a week be­fore the bud­get speech, the Hawks con­firmed that he was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for his role in a “rogue unit” within the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars).

If you be­lieved in con­spir­a­cies, you would have con­cluded that the in­for­ma­tion was de­lib­er­ately dis­sem­i­nated to desta­bilise the bud­get.

This year, just days be­fore the bud­get, the ANC con­firmed that for­mer Eskom CEO Brian Molefe would be sworn in as an MP. Even a her­mit would prob­a­bly know that this is the first step in a move to­wards some kind of reshuf­fle by the pres­i­dent that will tar­get the fi­nance port­fo­lio.

Co­in­ci­den­tally, around the same time, the ANC Youth League called for the re­struc­tur­ing of Trea­sury and the dis­missal of Gord­han.

A week be­fore, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma had an­nounced that govern­ment would em­bark on rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, cre­at­ing some sort of ex­pec­ta­tion about the bud­get.

To state the ob­vi­ous, these are not ideal con­di­tions un­der which the fi­nance min­is­ter should be pre­sent­ing a bud­get.

The eco­nomic cli­mate al­ready made it dif­fi­cult for any bold ini­tia­tives or new ideas, but the toxic pol­i­tics se­verely ham­pered Trea­sury, an in­sti­tu­tion that has been de­clared per­sona non grata by many of Zuma’s al­lies.

For its his­tory of ex­cel­lence and in­sis­tence on com­pli­ance with the law, Trea­sury has frus­trated many in govern­ment who want to loot.

Zuma started its emas­cu­la­tion by ap­point­ing to Sars an ally who is great on the pol­i­tics front, but thin on the ex­per­tise of run­ning the place. We are start­ing to reap the har­vest of that, as ev­i­denced by the poor col­lec­tion of rev­enue.

With Molefe hov­er­ing around, we are on the verge of wit­ness­ing fur­ther dev­as­ta­tion on the eco­nomic front.

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