New Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba says he has no plans to change administrative leadership at National Treasury.
“National treasury is an important position and I will not act in this position, in any manner that will jeopardise both the integrity of the department as well as the interests of the South African nation,” Gigaba told journalists following a swearing in ceremony of new ministers at the presidential guesthouse on Friday night.
He said he had no intention of shifting people around at Treasury or bringing new people in to replace those who had worked with Gordhan and Jonas.
“I don’t come here gung-ho with an agenda to change the DG [director general]. I have known the DG [Lungisa Fuzile] for quite a long time, he’s a very competent and able man. I support him fully in the execution of his responsibilities,” Gigaba said.
There has been outrage over the president’s decision to fire Gigaba’s predecessor Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, with many including some in the ANC leadership stating that Zuma’s decision to let go of performing ministers made no sense.
Others including leaders of opposition political parties like the EFF and DA believe Gigaba’s appointment was made with the interest of the Gupta family, who have close ties to the president and accused of having undue influence in decisions he makes including the hiring and firing of members of his cabinet.
In responding to those who had criticised his lack of qualifications in finance, Gigaba said he brought with him 13 years of experience in governance and that he had some understanding of how the economy functions having previously served on the public enterprises portfolio.
Gigaba also said the panic and anxiety over his appointment is natural and is expected with any changes
Some ratings agencies have also expressed some concern over the changes, but Gigaba said he had already started engaging with them in order to allay their fears.
“This morning I had a telephonic with Gordhan and Jonas and in the afternoon I had a telephonic conference with Fitch and Moody’s,” he said.
He added that he will be holding discussions with ratings agency Standard & Poor’s next week.