Fuzile believes Treasury can survive political meddling

May 09 2017 21:00
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Lungisa Fuzile, the outgoing director general of National Treasury, believes his staff will prevent any attempt by politicians to capture the institution for unconstitutional means.

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Fuzile, who will say farewell to his team in Pretoria on Monday, told guests at a UCT Graduate School of Business event on Tuesday evening that he has no regrets leaving the department after almost two decades.

“I am ready to try something else with a clean conscience,” he said. “I don't have regrets: after 19 years, I will be very happy to watch government from outside.”

Asked what his views on state capture were, he said it was a “deeply political” issue that he would rather avoid discussing while still in his current role.

However, Fuzile said he didn’t want to downplay the possibility that Treasury could be targeted for nefarious means.

“When you have an institution like Treasury, it's very hard to come in and disrupt the culture to get an entire institution aligned to ill intentions,” he said.

'My colleagues have thick skins'

“If an attempt was made, it would be disruptive, but anyone who wants to do that; I pray for their success. My colleagues have thick skins.”

Rating agencies Fitch and S&P downgraded aspects of South Africa’s credit rating to junk status following the recall by President Jacob Zuma of Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas as minister and deputy minister of finance respectively.

Fuzile then announced his resignation in April, while another Treasury stalwart – Andrew Donaldson – retired at the end of April.

The exit of long-standing state officials and politicians gave rise to concerns of an exodus of staff from Treasury, a bulwark that protects the fiscus from corruption and uncontrolled government spending.

However, Fuzile believes the institution will continue to perform its role well. He said the youngest deputy director at Treasury had been in his role for eight years.

“To change such people or to make them think the Constitution or the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act) does not matter, to rewire them to think sound fiscal management belongs in the dustbin; it's hard to imagine that happen.”

WATCH: Lungisa Fuzile speaks at GSB

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