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Molefe coming for Gordhan's job? Not just yet - analyst

Feb 17 2017 21:16
Adiel Ismail

Cape Town - Although Brian Molefe's move to parliament keeps him in line to possibly be the next finance minister, he will in all likelihood remain on the backbenches for some time, according to one political analyst.

Molefe, who served as a deputy director general at the National Treasury, is widely speculated to be a strong contender for the position of finance minister should Pravin Gordhan be ousted.

The 50-year-old, who is yet to be sworn in as an MP, was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Northern Cape list of African National Congress MPs.

The announcement on Friday followed an attack on Gordhan by the ANC Youth League accusing him of protecting the interests of white monopoly capital.

It further heightens speculation of an imminent cabinet reshuffle, with suspicions that Molefe becoming an MP takes him a step closer to being appointed as finance minister. This comes as Gordhan is seen to be at loggerheads with President Jacob Zuma over the management of the public purse and differences with state-owned companies and the proposed nuclear build programme.

READ: The bold and the tearful: I will resign, says Brian Molefe

The former Eskom CEO stepped down following a scathing report into state capture by former public protector Thuli Madonsela. She recommended that Zuma appoint an independent judicial commission of enquiry, which would afford those implicated in the report an opportunity to tell their side of the story.

Molefe, who served on boards of some of South Africa’s largest corporates, including the Industrial Development Corporation, Airports Company South Africa, Telkom, Investec, Lion of Africa Fund Managers and Public Investment Corporation, has been an ardent defender of the controversial Gupta family.

'Molefe - a highly capable individual'

Describing Molefe as a highly capable individual caught up in the saga of state capture, Daniel Silke told Fin24 that the appointment of Molefe as MP keeps him in line for potentially greater pastures, particularly that of a cabinet position in future.

"Molefe may see himself as moving into a political career but the threat of a judicial inquiry will likely keep him in the backbenches for some time and therefore he may not be viewed - at least for the moment - as a shoe-in for finance minister."

TIMELINE: Brian Molefe's career so far

However, Silke added that notwithstanding the cloud of the Guptas and the state capture issues hanging over Molefe's head, the ANC has shown that this in no way impedes the appointment of him as an MP.

"Clearly, controversies surrounding the Guptas are not a barrier to entering the National Assembly," he reckoned.

Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen said the party will be reporting Molefe to Parliament’s ethics committee, once he was sworn in. "He is going to be a gift to the opposition.”

Congress of the People also expressed dissatisfaction with the news.  

"It’s amazing because this is someone who was mentioned in the state capture report, repeatedly,” said spokesperson Dennis Bloem.

Meanwhile, the ANC's Umkonto We Sizwe Military Veterans told News24 Molefe will serve the ANC well in government.

"He understands the ANC and how it wants to deal with the concerns of the people," said chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe.

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