Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan

South African Government

YOU’D be hard-pressed to find a South African who has been working harder to restore confidence in the economy and avert a sovereign credit rating downgrade to junk than finance minister Pravin Gordhan. The economic challenges remain: the National Treasury needs to find an additional R43bn in tax revenue for the 2017 and 2018 budgets at a time when the economy is expected to grow by less than 2% a year. (Consultations on a carbon tax continue, and the Bill is expected in 2017.) While debt is projected to stabilise at about 48% of GDP, the risk of a downgrade remains. Politically, Gordhan’s position seems slightly more secure after fraud charges, widely seen as politically motivated, were withdrawn in October 2016. The charges related to the early retirement of former South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Ivan Pillay, and sparked massive public support for Gordhan from organised business and civil society. But the treasury’s prudent views on the proposed nuclear programme and its battle against state capture means his job remains at risk. Gordhan brought a high-profile High Court application against the Gupta family to stop pressure from the family to have its bank accounts reopened. He also publicly criticised Eskom for a lack of co-operation with Treasury’s investigation into Eskom’s coal procurement contracts with the Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration & Resources.

LIFE OF PRAVIN

Gordhan, a pharmacist by training, is a struggle veteran who was jailed in the 1980s and played a key role in Umkhonto weSizwe, the ANC’s military wing. He was a Member of Parliament before joining SARS, which was built into a world-class organisation during his time as commissioner from 1999 to 2009. Gordhan, who served as finance minister from 2009 to 2014, was reappointed in the position in December 2015.

“I have to serve South Africa as best I can. Let me do my job.”