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Gigaba reins in aide, says Malikane not a zama-zama

Apr 19 2017 12:40
Lameez Omarjee

Pretoria – Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said he has “reined in” his newly-appointed adviser Professor Chris Malikane over an opinion piece he authored, promoting nationalisation.

Gigaba was speaking to journalists at Treasury, ahead of his trip to the US for the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Spring Meeting this week.

Responding to a question regarding the views of Malikane, an associate professor at the Wits School of Economics and Business Science, Gigaba said that South Africans should not become “agitated” by such opinions.

“Advisers are advisers, they are not the minister, they don’t impose their advice, they only provide it,” he said.

Gigaba explained that there are many different opinions and schools of thought, and that solutions do not necessarily emanate from a single source. “Schools of thought provide advice, they look at same issue from different angles.”

He said that whatever decisions he takes will be based on a consideration of facts placed before him. He added that these are collective decisions by Cabinet and the ruling party.

He gave the assurance that government is committed to inclusive growth, and accelerating economic growth and transformation. “I remain committed to fiscal management and discipline.”

The advice from Malikane must not detract from ANC policies, which do not entail nationalisation, he explained.

“I take my cue from the policies of government,” Gigaba reiterated.

“Don’t be agitated by Professor Malikane, I advised him to keep quiet and allow me to do my work. I can’t be spokesperson of my adviser, I can’t answer questions about what my adviser said,” said Gigaba.

READ: From Verwoerd to Chavez: Battle heats up over Treasury aide

He explained that Malikane, who comes from an academic background, must learn how government works and as such his future public engagements as an adviser should be zero.

“At least he is not a voodoo economist, he has a PhD in economics. He is a proper doctor with many students, masters and doctoral (degrees) under his belt. He is not a ‘zama-zama’ in the area and he is not the only bull in town.”

Gigaba said he prefers to work with people who are skilled in their fields and who possess a diversity of opinions, so that he can balance the advice provided to him. “My chief advisers in my job, in addition to the professor, are my deputy director generals and chief directors who advise in their areas.”

Previously, National Treasury said in a statement that views expressed in Malikane’s opinion piece are not necessarily government policy. “Professor Malikane is within his rights as an academic and an activist to contribute ideas to national discourse on any subject.

READ: Treasury puts out fires on Gigaba aide's take on nationalisation

“Minister Malusi Gigaba wishes to place on record that the work of the Ministry of Finance will continue to be guided by policies of the ANC, as articulated in conference resolutions and in the 2014 election manifesto.”

Treasury stressed that the nationalisation of banks as advocated by Malikane is not government policy.

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