Van Rooyen speaks out: Will he raise taxes?

President Jacob Zuma shakes hands with newly appointed Minister of Finance David van Rooyen at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP, Getty)

President Jacob Zuma shakes hands with newly appointed Minister of Finance David van Rooyen at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP, Getty)

South Africa’s new finance minister, David van Rooyen, has said that under his leadership economic policies will be driven towards investing in development for all South Africans.

“I follow a line of remarkable leaders. They all faced this moment at a critical juncture in its history,” Van Rooyen said. “Mine is a colossal task that comes at a time of a difficult global climate.”

Van Rooyen made his first statement as minister on Thursday afternoon, after he was sworn in at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Speculation is rife that the minister will announce tax increases in the February budget. 

Earlier this week, before Nene’s dismissal, it was predicted that the national treasury would likely introduce tax increases in the February budget.
South Africa’s total tax rate stands at 28.8%, which is lower than global averages but higher than competitors such as Botswana (25.1%), Namibia (21.3%) and Zambia (18.6%).

President Jacob Zuma was at the ceremony to welcome Van Rooyen into his new position. The president left shortly after the swearing-in without taking questions or giving any explanation as to why Nene was fired.

Justice Sisi Khampepe officiated the swearing-in ceremony and Van Rooyen took the oath to be faithful to the South African republic and obey the Constitution. The proceedings ended quickly with Van Rooyen leaving the room and then returning to address the media. 

Van Rooyen noted that the global economic conditions are particularly harsh for developing and emerging markets.

“All economic indicators, as you are all aware, are pointing to the south. Now I must undertake in front of you, and the nation, that I will ... ensure every policy is directed at creating favourable investment conditions, leading to the development of South Africa for all South Africans – not for the few,” Van Rooyen said.

Van Rooyen thanked his predecessors, making special mention of Nene. His address to media was brief, but he promised to engage more with the media once he had convened meeting with the treasury.

Van Rooyen left after his briefing, with no question-and-answer session with the media. It remains unclear as to why Van Rooyen was chosen for the position and where Nene will go now that he has been dismissed.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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