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Captured Treasury a 'constitutional crisis' - analyst

Oct 01 2017 15:50
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – The shifting of the budget allocation process to the Presidency confirms fears that there are agendas to disable National Treasury, said an analyst.

Speaking to Fin24 by phone on Sunday, political analyst Ralph Mathekga explained that the capturing of Treasury has been in development for a long time. Several senior officials at Treasury have claimed that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has been establishing a parallel administration within  the department, City Press reported.

Cabinet had also announced that the budget allocation process would be the responsibility of the presidency for the 2018/19 financial year. This is to ensure that the allocations were in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), City Press reported.

A two-pronged approach of capture is being followed, explained Mathekga. The first is to disable Treasury to prevent it from doing a critical evaluation of government expenditure as it has done in the past, through the creation of parallel institutions.

Secondly, “something more sinister”, is to have the functions of Treasury as laid out in section 200 of the Constitution conferred to the Presidency. This is a “constitutional crisis”, said Mathekga.

Gigaba torn by two worlds

When asked about Gigaba’s leadership since taking over Treasury six months ago, Mathekga said that it brings into question whether Gigaba is his “own man”.

“Gigaba is torn between two worlds that cannot co-exist,” said Mathekga. One world is run by the Guptas, who have deployed him to the top position to push a particular agenda.

While, at the same time Gigaba is trying to push against attempts to control his actions by doing good, Mathekga explained. In one instance, South Africans “get excited” when they see good is being done, but then become disappointed when there are revelations of capture.

“That schizophrenia represents how we are as a society, one day we wake up with hope of good governance, then we go back with the depression that we are being fed with PR work,” he said.

On Gigaba’s leadership Professor Jannie Rossouw, head of the School of Economics and Business Science at Wits University, referred specifically to slip ups in meeting goals of the 14-point plan Treasury announced in June.

One of the goals was to appoint a new chairperson of South African Airways (SAA), but it appears Dudu Myeni will remain until 2018, he said.

Rossouw went on to say that it is disconcerting to find that the Presidency has more control over the budget, especially given the fact that the country is running a fiscal deficit and slowly approaching a fiscal cliff.

“We are really seeing the capture of National Treasury at different levels,” he said. This will have implications for the medium term budget policy statement to be announced later in October, said Rossouw. South Africans will have to brace for higher tax hikes.

Mayihlome Tshwete told City Press that Gigaba had brought 17 people to Treasury and appointments had been made in accordance with the Ministerial handbook.

DA MP David Maynier said in a statement that the political party will pose Parliamentary questions to Gigaba to provide clarity on the appointments he has made since joining Treasury. This will determine if the minister followed the Ministerial Handbook.

The DA wants Gigaba to clarify the total number of staff members employed in his private office, as well as the names, designations, job descriptions and salary levels of each staff member and when, the organisational structure of his private office was approved by the Minister of Public Service and Administration.

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