Johannesburg - Joining newly-appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on his investor roadshow to the US would have been an exercise in futility, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said on Thursday.
It lacked credibility and labour was struggling to trust government, Fedusa general secretary Dennis George told reporters in Johannesburg.
“Fedusa decided to suspend its participation in team SA because it’s a futile exercise, speaking to investors when the elephant in the room is President [Jacob] Zuma.”
He was speaking at the announcement of a “Freedom Movement”, a coalition of political parties, civil society organisations, trade unions, academics, and religious bodies dedicated to seeing Zuma removed from office.
Gigaba was in the US to attend the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC on Friday and to meet investors in Boston and New York, as well as ratings agency Moody’s.
He was there without business or labour representatives, a break from his predecessor Pravin Gordhan’s practice.
At the beginning of April, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch downgraded South Africa’s debt to junk status, following Zuma’s large-scale Cabinet reshuffle which included firing Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
George said the movement called on South Africans to gather at Freedom Park, Pretoria, on Freedom Day, April 27. It would allow South Africans to educate one another and move away from slogans like “radical economic transformation”, which he said sidestepped the national development plan. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu had endorsed the march.
"To us it’s clear that the president does not have the economic welfare of South Africa in mind and he is now clearly demonstrating that to everyone," George said.
He said this was not the first time Zuma had led the country down this path. In December 2015, he fired Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, sending the rand into freefall against the US dollar and hurting investor confidence.
"You see, he was warned," George said.
"To be downgraded is no small thing, like some silly minister said ‘we will just pick the rand up again’." He was referring to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s comment, after Zuma’s reshuffle, when she said "let the rand fall! We will pick it up".
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