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Pityana: Zuma kicked business and labour in the teeth

Apr 06 2017 12:15
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma's decision to recall former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan from an investor roadshow was a “kick in the teeth” for business and labour representatives who accompanied him, according to businessman and leader of the Save South Africa campaign Sipho Pityana.

Speaking to Fin24 after addressing the Wits Business School on Wednesday, Pityana said: “He was not just kicking the minister of finance in the teeth, he was kicking business and labour in the teeth as well because all that we were doing there was to support government in leading a delegation,” he said.

The different stakeholders are encouraged to put their “best foot forward”  in explaining the governance framework in the country.

“The president knows that as business and labour, we have been engaging with the concerns of the international markets with regard to what is happening in South Africa.”

READ: Sipho Pityana: Gordhan recall is 'economic sabotage'

The subsequent Cabinet reshuffle, which saw former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba replacing Gordhan, has brought into question Gigaba's leadership because of the manner in which it was done, said Pityana.

Since the Cabinet reshuffle, Zuma has invited business and labour to accompany Sfiso Buthelezi, who replaced Mcebisi Jonas, on a new investment roadshow. However, Pityana said there will be strong debate on whether such a roadshow will be supported by business and labour.

“We are not at the beck and call of the president of the country, we are independent citizens who do what we do because we support him, but because we believe in our country.” Pityana said that Zuma treated business and labour with disdain.

“It makes us [business and labour] angry because we know the agenda of the reshuffle,” he said. Over the past few months business and labour had worked to convey to international investors that South Africa was the best place to invest.

'Altar of fools'

However, Zuma had done the opposite of what was advised. Accompanying Gigaba on this proposed road show would be like attending an “altar of fools”, Pityana explained. “How would it look if we accompanied the minister of finance, despite the fact that we think what was done was wrong?” he asked. 

WATCH: President Zuma is kicking business and labour in the teeth - Sipho Pityana


Malusi could have been received better

Pityana went on to explain the reaction from the markets following the Cabinet reshuffle could have been avoided if there had been consultation between business, labour and government about the decision to remove Gordhan.

In his address to the conference, Pityana used the example of how former finance minister Trevor Manuel, an engineer, took on the portfolio as the nation transitioned from apartheid in the early 1990s. Pityana explained that extensive engagement between various stakeholders with access to international markets helped prevent a possible fallout.

Pityana said the lack of engagement is what “raises the shutters” and divides the people and results in confrontations as was seen on university campuses and Marikana.

“Government does not owe South Africa a favour to engage with the public. Government has a responsibility to engage the South African public.”


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