Sachs move the tipping point?
Unhappy Pravin Gordhan describes resignation of senior Treasury official over president’s proposed free higher education plan as ‘a tragedy’
● Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan has called the resignation of senior Treasury official Michael Sachs an “absolute tragedy”.
Sachs, deputy director-general in the budgeting office, resigned amid allegations that he and other Treasury officials were unhappy about President Jacob Zuma’s alleged plan to introduce free tertiary education.
Zuma’s plan, said to be the brainchild of his daughter’s ex, Morris Masutha, calls on Treasury to provide R40-billion for free education.
No budgetary provisions have been made for the funding and Treasury staffers who spoke to The Times on Monday said many feared a parallel budgeting process was taking place outside of the Treasury.
The Sunday Times reported Sachs had PRAVIN GORDHAN Former finance minister threatened to resign if Zuma’s plan was implemented because there had not been sufficient consultation or consideration of the long-term ramifications.
On Monday Zuma released the findings of the Heher Commission on higher education funding, just hours after the news of Sachs’ resignation became public.
Speaking to The Times, Gordhan said: “It’s an absolute tragedy that a person of Sachs’ calibre has decided to leave Treasury.”
He also alluded to the fact that Sachs resigned because his ability to manage the budget had been interfered with.
Gordhan said: “It is no mystery as to why this might have happened, despite the spin doctoring that has been on it.”
He called the situation “reckless”. “This is another activity that can sabotage our economic growth and fiscal credibility at a time we can least afford it,” said Gordhan.
Economists have warned that this gives the appearance of instability in the Treasury and could be the tipping point for South Africa to being downgraded by ratings agency Moody’s to junk status.
On Monday, the rand fell from R14.40 to R14.54.
“This is another activity that can sabotage our economic growth”
Security in riot gear outside the tent where UCT students will write exams. A group of students and staff handed a memorandum with demands to the Vice-Chancellor Max Price