“I Am Not Available For Minister of Finance”, Says ANC NEC Member

PICTURE: Parliament

JOHANNESBURG: As speculations mounts that the newly elected president will effect a new cabinet, with the finance ministry being the main focus, an ANC NEC member said he is not available and it’s time for young people to take over. 

Delivering his State of the Nation Address on Friday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave a hint on a mooted cabinet reshuffle by saying: “Growth, development and transformation depend on a strong and capable state.” 

“It is critical that the structure and size of the state is optimally suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources. We will therefore initiate a process to review the configuration, number and size of national government departments.”

Even if the number of departments is not reduced immediately, it is still expected that Ramaphosa will effect a cabinet reshuffle to refresh and boot out non-performers, especially those cabinet ministers link to state capture. 

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The City Press on Sunday reported that some  an MP and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member told the paper that he faces a tough choice.

“Some of us believe that the new finance minister must deliver the budget, because he will have to implement it. Others think that we have had a fast-paced few days and so Malusi (Gigaba) must be allowed to deliver the budget.

“In all fairness, it is not his budget. It was compiled by a team and part of that argument is that the new Cabinet will be a complete overhaul, so such a change should wait till after budget.”

Another view is that opposition parties, the (Economic Freedom Fighters) EFF in particular, could disrupt a budget delivered by Gigaba.

The EFF have been calling for the removal of Gigaba since Ramaphosa was sworn in as a president. Speaking to the Mail&Guardian, the EFF leader said, “We are giving him one chance. In the state of the nation address, one of the things he has to announce is the removal of the minister of finance. Please.

“The purse must come to a safer place. It cannot be guaranteed by that guy whose citizenship is questionable. His loyalty is not here,” Julius Malema said.

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Speculation has been rife around who will replace Gigaba in the crucial ministry of finance. Names which have been thrown around include former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, former ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize, and former Reserve Bank governer Tito Mboweni. Mboweni stated on twitter that he is not available to take up the position of finance ministry. 

According to Mboweni, “Against the wisdom of my Team, please don’t tell them this. It’s between us, I am not available for Minister of Finance.

“You cannot recycle the same people all over again. It is time for young people. We are available for advisory roles. Not cabinet. We have done that,” said through his twitter account. 

Speaking to the Republic Mail, Political Analyst Matla Sethlalogile said, “The ideal thing is for the president to axe Mr Gigaba. However, if that happens prior to the Budget Speech, it might lead to a certain degree of momentary dysfunctionality.” 

Gigaba – if not recalled – will deliver his budget vote on Wednesday.