MALUSI Gigaba’s job went from difficult to nearly impossible after credit rating agencies responded to his appointment in 2017 with downgrades. There was also an exodus of senior South African Treasury officials. Facing ballooning debt levels, and a widening budget deficit in a low-growth environment, Gigaba has so far largely failed to restore business and consumer confidence. His mid-term budget statement in October painted a dire picture, prompting a further downgrade, and his 2018 budget will be closely watched to see if he can plug an expected R50.8bn budget hole while resisting pressure to kickstart the nuclear build programme. He will also have to deliver on President Jacob Zuma’s promise of free higher education for low-income families – a task that will most likely mean higher taxes and expenditure cuts. Believed to harbour presidential ambitions, Gigaba has the gift of the gab: he, for instance, sounds like a finance minister who understands how to please the markets. His patter is to preach policy certainty and fiscal prudence while defending the role of the Reserve Bank. Yet, he hasn’t quite managed to shake off the view of critics that he played a key role in enabling state capture at state-owned enterprises during his term as public enterprises minister. Take Eskom, where he removed competent board members and replaced them with so-called ‘Zupta’ lackeys.
LIFE OF MALUSI
A former president of the ANC Youth League and first appointed as member of Parliament in 1999, Gigaba is one of the party’s most popular younger leaders. He has served as minister of public enterprises and home affairs, and holds a BA degree in education and a Master’s in social policy.
- Web Address: www.treasury.gov.za