Junk sta­tus: ANC dis­sent ‘wor­ry­ing’

CityPress - - Business - JUSTIN BROWN, DEWALD VAN RENS­BURG, LESETJA MALOPE and SIPHO MASONDO busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Na­tional Trea­sury is look­ing to fill the po­si­tion of out­go­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral Lungisa Fuzile as soon as pos­si­ble. The va­cancy was ad­ver­tised on Fri­day and the clos­ing date for ap­pli­ca­tions is April 28. “I doubt it will ap­point some­body in an act­ing po­si­tion,” said the source. “The speed with which it is go­ing about this in­di­cates that Trea­sury wants to ap­point some­body to whom Lungisa will hand over. I think they will ap­point some­body by end-May.”

Trea­sury spokesper­son May­ihlome Tsh­wete de­clined to say who might re­place Fuzile, who is set to exit on May 15 af­ter 20 years’ ser­vice in the depart­ment.

In another de­vel­op­ment, Christo­pher Ma­likane, as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, has be­come Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba’s eco­nomic ad­vi­sor.

Tsh­wete con­firmed this, but was un­able to say if Ma­likane’s po­si­tion was a full- or part-time role.

City Press was un­able to reach Ma­likane for com­ment this week.

Ma­likane was a mem­ber of the Na­tional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion from 2010 to 2015.

He ob­tained his doc­tor­ate in eco­nom­ics from the New School for So­cial Re­search in New York in 1997, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion web­site.

This week, Gi­gaba spent an hour telling busi­ness and labour lead­ers how se­ri­ously he viewed the rat­ing down­grades, by S&P Global and Fitch Rat­ings, at a spe­cial meet­ing at Ned­lac, the con­sen­sus-seek­ing body com­pris­ing gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, labour and civil so­ci­ety.

Ac­cord­ing to one at­ten­dant, Gi­gaba men­tioned the “dis­cor­dance of mes­sag­ing em­a­nat­ing from min­is­ters”.

The source went on to quote Gi­gaba as say­ing: “Our view is that the down­grades must not be taken lightly. We must not think that we can just go and pick up the rand if we say things like ‘im­pe­ri­al­ism must fall’.

“On this is­sue only Trea­sury must speak on be­half of gov­ern­ment,” Gi­gaba ap­par­ently said.

This fol­lows a re­cent com­ment by Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane that “the rand can fall, we will pick it up”, and a Sun­day Times re­port cit­ing a What­sApp group op­er­ated by the pres­i­dent’s son, Ed­ward Zuma, in which he made light of the down­grades and Black Busi­ness Coun­cil pres­i­dent Danisa Baloyi ap­par­ently said: “Who re­ally cares?”

An agenda cir­cu­lated at the Ned­lac meet­ing listed three items: “as­sess­ing the con­text” of the down­grades; “dis­cussing a po­ten­tial ac­tion plan to ame­lio­rate the neg­a­tive ef­fects”; and “de­vel­op­ing a pos­i­tive mes­sage to the in­ter­na­tional in­vestors that South Africa is a vi­able in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion”.

Some in the ANC and its al­liance part­ners are weary of in­ter­na­tional credit rat­ing agen­cies and con­fused about how to re­act to the coun­try’s down­grades to junk sta­tus.

Nic Bo­rain, a po­lit­i­cal and in­vest­ment an­a­lyst at BNP Paribas Se­cu­ri­ties SA, said the dif­fer­ent views ex­pressed by the al­liance and ANC ex­posed di­vi­sions over the down­grades.

While some se­nior ANC mem­bers had shown ig­no­rance about the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, Gi­gaba, he said, had done well to calm the storm and shown a good un­der­stand­ing of the cri­sis.

Bo­rain said party mem­bers’ ut­ter­ances that the down­grades did not mat­ter were caus­ing in­sta­bil­ity and un­cer­tainty for in­vestors.

SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) spokesper­son Alex Mashilo said Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s ex­pla­na­tion for hav­ing axed Pravin Gord­han as fi­nance min­is­ter – to ad­vance rad­i­cal eco­nom­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion – was con­fus­ing, given that, af­ter the first down­grade, Zuma said there was no pol­icy change.

The SACP also has a prob­lem with the lack of de­fin­i­tive con­sul­ta­tion on rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, said Mashilo. “To some peo­ple, rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion means reck­less­ness, deep­en­ing Gup­tari­sa­tion.”

Sizwe Pamla, spokesper­son for labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu, said the body was un­sure if gov­ern­ment and the ANC took the down­grades as se­ri­ously as they should.

“We have cause for con­cern be­cause of the non­sen­si­cal ut­ter­ances by some Cab­i­net mem­bers,” Pamla said.

Pamla said although the trade union was happy with the abil­ity of mem­bers of the eco­nomic clus­ter, the clus­ter’s non­mem­bers, who are still in key Cab­i­net port­fo­lios, were giv­ing Cosatu a rea­son to worry.

“Gen­er­ally, Cab­i­net is full of eco­nom­i­cally il­lit­er­ate peo­ple who fail to ap­pre­ci­ate the se­ri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

Cit­ing Mokonyane as an ex­am­ple, Pamla said some par­lia­men­tar­i­ans were reck­less and lacked the ca­pac­ity to deal with South Africa’s junk sta­tus, adding that it was the work­ers who would feel the pinch most.

“Work­ers will be con­fronted with this re­al­ity at the taxi and bus ranks when the in­fla­tion and in­ter­est rates hit.”

ANC Youth League sec­re­tary-gen­eral Njab­ulo Nzuza said credit rat­ing agen­cies were col­lud­ing. He added that although the league was wor­ried about the ef­fects of the down­grades, it was more con­cerned about the pol­i­tics that seemed to have fu­elled the de­ci­sion.

“The agen­cies are com­pro­mised and seem to be pur­su­ing a po­lit­i­cal agenda,” he said.

“Rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and fis­cal dis­ci­pline can co­ex­ist. Rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion talks to the is­sue of poli­cies which are pro-poor.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.