Cape Town - South Africa's $2bn (about R16.4bn) commitment
to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) firewall is not a gift but
a sound financial investment, the presidency said on Wednesday.
"If the IMF uses the funds, the money is lent to the
IMF and not a gift... (and) for all of this time the money will be earning
interest for South Africa," President Jacob Zuma's spokesperson Mac
"The capital of the loan will ultimately be repaid to
South Africa. It's like lending money to a very strong bank. This is not a
Zuma committed some of South Africa's reserves at the G20
summit, a meeting of the world's greatest economies, in Los Cabos, Mexico on
At least $430bn had been set aside to stave off the risk of
another financial crisis, which would likely lead to a sharp decrease in global
growth and rising unemployment.
IMF members could access the funds through a temporary loan,
with conditions, and the reserves were not earmarked for any region.
While the news was welcomed by Business Unity SA as an
important step in maintaining stable economic growth, the Congress of SA Trade
Unions felt South Africa should be a beneficiary rather than a
"The decision must be reversed and the $2bn used to
alleviate the plight of the poorest South Africans and to invest in the
restructuring of our economy," spokesperson Patrick Craven said.
Maharaj reiterated that the funds were part of foreign
reserves, did not require an additional budgetary allocation and were critical
in keeping the rand stable.
"If the global economy falls sharply, there is a
serious risk that we will lose more jobs. In the last global recession we lost
one million jobs. Our contribution to the IMF is intended to help stave off
this kind of crisis happening again."
The wealth of a country is not necessarily an indicator for
how much should be set aside for the IMF, he said.
China has a lower per capita income than South Africa and
yet has set aside $43bn.
India is "considerably poorer" and is allocating
"Like China and India, South Africa is a responsible
global citizen. We are in the G20 to support global stabilisation and growth.
We need to continue to do our duty."