Alec Erwin to quit

Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin would retire after the elections next year, Business Day reported on Monday.

Erwin’s spokesperson, Vimla Maistry, on Sunday night confirmed he would step down.

“The minister would like to confirm that he would not be serving another term. His decision was taken long before the change in African National Congress leadership,” she said.

Erwin is seen as a member of President Thabo Mbeki’s inner circle.

His departure will raise a question mark over the future of other leading members of the economics “dream team”, especially Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

His decision comes after a report in the Sunday Times of a clash between him and Manuel over a proposed funding model for state-owned enterprises.

Last week, in his Budget-vote speech in Parliament, Erwin sketched an ambitious programme for state-owned enterprises in the future, and suggested their funding be dealt with separately from established treasury practice for funding state-owned enterprises.

According to the Sunday Times, Manuel had rejected Erwin’s funding idea, leading to a rift between the two men.

Erwin has dismissed the report, saying there was consensus within the government over how state-owned companies should be run.

Presidential spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga, when asked on Sunday night about Erwin’s decision, said: “Why should the president be aware of somebody’s personal position? It is not of importance to us.

“Will this president be making Cabinet appointments next year? If you view it that way, we have got to conclude that you want to invent scarecrows.” - Sapa

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