Editorial: Give us more like Fuzile

Few people in government are able to engage an angry audience without plunging a public debate into further incoherence. But the director general of the treasury, Lungisa Fuzile, has shown repeatedly that he is ready to put his own ego aside, to explain and to listen.

At a recent Mail & Guardian Critical Thinking Forum to discuss the effect of fiscal policies on socioeconomic inequality, he remained the picture of equanimity, despite the audience hurling insults about the treasury’s motives and voicing suspicion about the director general’s real priorities.

He explained. And he listened. Of course, Fuzile is not faultless – just as, dare we say it, Pravin Gordhan is not a saint. Fuzile’s time as treasury DG is, however, exemplary of how the public service should be.

Fuzile leaves the treasury after 20 years of service there. He moved up through the ranks, from being deputy director general after joining in 1998 to director general, a position in which he served for nearly six years, answering to two finance ministers (not counting the Weekend Special). He was trusted. And he delivered. He has been praised by superiors and staff for his professionalism, dedication and loyalty.

Too often, public service is synonymous with incompetence. Fuzile is an example of the many, many hard-working public servants who are devoted to improving the lives of South Africans. May his successor share that dedication.

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