New Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba pleaded with the public, media and the opposition to judge him on his work in the coming weeks and not “speculations and rumours”.
Addressing the media for the first time in his new role, Gigaba firmly made radical economic transformation his top priority after being appointed to replace Pravin Gordhan.
President Jacob Zuma sacked Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, on Thursday night and shocked the country with a sudden Cabinet reshuffle.
Gigaba called on the media to “ask any questions” at a briefing in Pretoria on Saturday, alongside his new deputy, Sfiso Buthelezi, and long-time director-general Lungisa Fuzile.
“We need to radically transform the South African economy, such that it works for all South Africans, including those who have been and still continue to this day to be marginalised,” he said.
“Radical economic transformation is not about implementing tender systems but changing the structure of the economy to bring on board as many players as possible, who can take advantage of the country’s natural resources, infrastructure investment programmes and agriculture sector as well as other advantages that the country’s economy has to offer.”
The need for radical economic transformation arose from criticism that the pace and depth of change in the country’s economy was too slow and superficial.
“Many of our alliances feel the ANC can do more in order to address policies of radical economic transformation,” Gigaba said.
“We have not paid sufficient attention to the real economy, to industrialising the economy, to ensuring that we create entrepreneurs and industrialists, particularly among black people, in a manner that is going to expand our skills base.”
“The urgent task before us is the pursuit of inclusive growth and a shared wealth.”
With just few days in the job, Gigaba said he would meet his predecessors today to “draw from everyone’s experience”, reminding the media that even former finance minister Trevor Manuel had no expertise when he came into office.
While still trying to find his feet, Gigaba said he would not be withdrawing from the various court cases between the Gupta-owned Oakbay and the National Treasury.