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Davies: Many times, I thought I would be shuffled out

Mar 26 2019 21:00
Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies stayed in his position in the hopes of improving the department, and any scent of corruption in the "backyard" was opposed, he said.

The minister was speaking on the role of SA government in shaping the economy's recovery, at an event hosted by the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday.

Davies was asked by an attendee about what he did in his position as minister to fight back against corruption, and if he ever considered resigning.

In response, Davies said his department had received clean audits for three years.

"Wherever we found any corruption in our backyard, we fought it," he said, but admitted he did not have the power to fight against corruption in other areas of government.

"I could have done what some people have said and just resigned. Then what would have happened to the dti?" he asked.

"Many times, I thought I was going to be reshuffled out. Many times. Half the time I thought – 'stuff it, why should I stay any longer?'" 

Instead Davies chose to stay in his post, to hand over a dti that was in better shape, he told the audience.

"The dti is a bit better in some respects than it was when I took over," the minister said.

Election or referendum?

Davies responded to concerns that President Cyril Ramaphosa is being used to attract votes for the elections, only to be ousted once the ANC comes to power.

He said this was not the case, and if the ANC were elected, Ramaphosa would have the mandate "from the people" to push for reforms and changes he wants to bring about.

Davies said he heard the national elections, to be held on May 8, were being treated like a referendum by South Africans. They could either vote for Ramaphosa, who would lead a process of reform in the country, or "risk something else", namely a DA-EFF coalition government.

"If we risk something else, it is not going to be nice," he said.

He contrasted the different ideologies of the two parties, saying one – the EFF – believes in the nationalisation of land without compensation, without regard for the impact it would have on living standards, while the other – the DA – believes land reform would put SA in the position Zimbabwe is now trying to bounce back from. 

Ramaphosa 'lit a fuse'

Davies also criticised the DA for not having any "new ideas" about the economy.

One attendee asked for more hope for the future of the country. 

"Ramaphosa has lit a fuse no one has really put out," Davies said.

"Many people have derived more hope now, as a result of the election of President Ramaphosa," he added.

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