Country first, minister
Dear Minister Gigaba,
Today marks 10 days since you were announced as the new finance minster. We wish you all the best, but here is some padkos for you as you embark on this important journey of handling the country’s public purse.
Please do not announce a nuclear procurement programme because, if the estimates are true, we certainly can’t afford it.
Please do not decide that Treasury suddenly supports Denel’s joint venture with VR Laser Asia – we will know you are in bed with the Guptas.
Please do not come out saying that, actually, enemies of the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill have a point. Do you want to protect the political elite involved in crime and money laundering?
Please do not spurn and disband the initiatives built up with business leaders and unions by your predecessor.
Please do not unconditionally bail the SABC out of the hole that was dug by Hlaudi Motsoeneng. That goes double for SAA. Above all else, don’t touch anything related to the Guptas with a 10-foot pole.
Policy continuity has a far more concrete meaning than affirming expenditure ceilings and debt-to-GDP levels. We know where Treasury stood on things before you got there.
You are now the most scrutinised person in the country. You are not allowed to joke, equivocate or do anything in the shadows.
It is not the ratings agencies’ disapproval you need to worry about as they have only touched on what everybody already knows, that this is about the future of South Africa.
This week’s downgrades are the least of our worries. The downgrades that will almost certainly result if you do any of the above will, however, saddle our children with an unpayable debt.
Critics of the ratings agencies are not crazy – they do sometimes get things horribly wrong.
But it wasn’t them who sent the rand sinking and the cost of our national debt spiking these past two weeks. That was you and your colleagues.
The credit ratings agencies are not accountable to us, but you are. So please ensure that whatever you do does not sink the country further into debt.