Gigaba on his future: See you, again. Somewhere

Treasury is set to present its 2018 budget to parliament on February 21, but the other focal point of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address was finance minister and Candy Crush aficionado Malusi Gigaba.

“I serve at the pleasure of the president. On the 21st there will be a budget speech delivered by the minister of finance.

All I can say is: ‘See you. Again. Somewhere.’”

Gigaba’s tongue-in-cheek response to eNCA reporter Lester Kiewit was a lighthearted response to speculation about his future in Ramaphosa’s cabinet. It also quoted former president Jacob Zuma’s final address to the nation as head of state.

Some economists and political analysts questioned Gigaba’s credentials when he was named finance minister in March 2017, replacing Pravin Gordhan, who had built a strong public perception of fiscal prudence. His appointment by former president Jacob Zuma ignited speculation that he was placed there as an ‘inside man’ for Zuma to capture the treasury.

It was during Gigaba’s tenure as Minister of Public Enterprises that allegations of state capture at state-owned enterprises began to emerge.

On Thursday, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) walked out of Ramaphosa’s nomination in parliament, later explaining to journalists that it was in part in protest at Gigaba delivering the budget speech.

EFF CIC Julius Malema took a verbal swing at “that crook Malusi Gigaba who illegally granted the Gupta family citizenship” and who “must not be allowed to deliver the budget.”“Zuma will go jail, we want to see him suffer. It is not over. We want to fetch him from the village to Kgosi Mampuru [prison]. I told him when he expelled us that ‘you are fighting with the wrong people because we have age on our side..’”

“In SONA he [Ramaphosa] must announce the removal of minister of finance [Gigaba]. This man can not be trusted and he must not deliver the budget speech this week,” he said.

Questions now abound about whether Ramaphosa will reshuffle the cabinet before the budget speech and replace Gigaba.

In October 2017, Gigaba announced dire budget forecasts, including weak growth expectations, revenue shortfall and rising government debt. A month later S&P Global Ratings downgraded South Africa to “junk”, citing the deterioration of South Africa’s economic outlook and public finances. Fitch, which also rates the country’s debt as “junk”, affirmed S&P’s rating in November. Moody‘s, which has rated South African debt on its lowest investment grade rung, placed the country on review for a downgrade. 

Moody’s is expected to make a decision on the country’s economic rating after the budget.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.

Judge trashes entire lockdown regime as constitutionally flawed

The high court ruling will delight gatvol South Africans but is unlikely to stand the test of time

Eusebius McKaiser: Two important lessons to learn about racists

The racially intolerant act to keep black people in “their place”, some even while claiming they're allies

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday