Enoch Godongwana
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Enoch  Godongwana

Minister: Finance: South Africa


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ENOCH Godongwana has been holding South Africa’s purse strings for just over two years – arguably one of the more undesirable jobs in the world. The country’s GDP is in negative territory, debt is a massive R4.3 trillion, and infrastructure is crumbling. Under Godongwana’s finance ministry, South Africa was put on a grey list by financial watchdog the Financial Action Task Force for not fully complying with international standards around the prevention of money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing.

When he presented the medium-term budget policy framework in November, he warned that public debt was untenable, and that South Africa could run out of money in just four months. Tax revenue also tanked due to a sharp fall in corporate income tax, especially from the mining sector, on the back of weaker commodity prices and lower sales. Godongwana is still viewed favourably by the markets because he is sticking to his fiscal guns despite immense pressure from civil organisations and trade unions to open the spending taps to stimulate growth.

But he has also come under fire for not truly representing the status quo in his budget reviews. A case in point is the 2023 main budget in February, when he did not stipulate any wage increases for civil servants. Barely a month later, government reached an agreement with trade unions for a 7.5% pay hike that led to R23.6bn in expenses that were not budgeted for. In this year’s medium-term budget framework in November, Godongwana made no provision for any form of bailout for the ailing Transnet, only to agree to a R47bn lifeline in the form of a guarantee facility for its substantial debt a month later.


Godongwana has an MSc in financial economics from the University of London. He kicked off his political career as a shop steward for the Metal and Allied Workers’ Union in 1979 and later served as an organiser for the National Union of Metalworkers between 1983 and 1989. Godongwana was a founding member of South Africa’s National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) a grouping of workers, business and government officials who preside over economic policy. As head of the ANC’s sub-committee on economic transformation, he was considered instrumental in the push-back against the nationalisation of mines.

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