Finance minister Malusi Gigaba will not be reshuffled from South Africa’s finance ministry until he had presented the 2018 budget, his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi has revealed.
Speculation about Gigaba’s possible reshuffle from the ministry has swirled since the election of president Cyril Ramaphosa in parliament. Gigaba was an ardent supporter of former president Jacob Zuma and calls have mounted from opposition parties for him to be removed from the finance ministry.
On Tuesday Gigaba presented in Parliament the finance ministry’s Vulekamali online portal, which gives ordinary South Africans access to the budget speech and detailed information about how taxpayer money will be collected and spent.
The portal also collects ‘tips for the minister’, which allows people to make suggestions on how the budget should be structured, and submit ideas for financial innovation.
But the minister asked his deputy to respond to questions from journalists in Parliament about his possible exit from the finance department.
“It’s [The budget] going to be presented by nobody else but Malusi Gigaba … that’s what we’ve been preparing for. We all know that’s the prerogative of the president and on a serious note it’s definitely an unfair question to ask a deployee ‘are you going to be here tomorrow’” Buthelezi said.
Gigaba earlier told the Mail & Guardian that the country should brace itself for a tough budget and that his department faces a “difficult balancing act”.
He said that nationwide access to the budget information would also prove difficult due to steep data costs from mobile network operators.
“It does raise the challenge for us to continue ensuring data falls, so that young people who are students can access this [portal]. We are working towards that but I think this is an exciting prospect for the youth of SA,” Gigaba said.
The portal is the result of the ministry’s partnership with several non governmental and community based organisations.