Johannesburg – Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has reined in his advisor Professor Chris Malikane who caused much controversy after calling for the nationalisation of mines and banks.
Gigaba briefed the media in Pretoria on Wednesday, ahead of his trip to the US where he is expected to meet with investors and his global counterparts at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC.
He would also meet with investors in Boston and New York and ratings agency Moody’s.
The minister called for calm over Malikane’s remarks, saying: “Don’t be agitated by Malikane. I will tell him to keep quiet and allow me to do my job. I can’t be his spokesperson. Yesterday I reined him in.”
He said advisors were just that and “they don’t impose their advice. He’s an academic … you need to understand that fact first. He’s an advisor and not the minister. I’m my own man, I take my own decisions. The technical advice that he provides must never detract from ANC policies … I take my cue from the policies of government”.
DA shadow minister of finance David Maynier said: “The fact that the minister is in damage control mode is proof enough that Professor Chris Malikane should never have been plucked out of the seminar room, where his mad ideas could do no damage to the economy, and appointed as an economic advisor, where his mad ideas can do damage to the economy.
The minister seems to think that it is possible to ‘firewall’ himself from his own economic advisor’s mad ideas and that it is possible for his economic advisor to be left to ‘think aloud’ as he takes on what he calls ‘right wing economists’ at National Treasury.
This is simply impossible and will no doubt send a chill up most international investors’ spines and will ensure a hostile reception during the international investor roadshow in the United States.
Meanwhile, Gigaba, who replaced Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, during a much-criticised cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma recently, said he remained committed to realising inclusive growth and fiscal discipline.
He was focussed on growing the South African economy while at the same time addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
“The South African at the moment is not in a situation we want it to be,” Gigaba said.
The minister said he would give investors reassurances in terms of government policy when he meets his global counterparts and investors in the US.
“We are going to be talking up our country, demonstrating confidence in our economy and its resilience. We are going to be engaging other investors and agencies to ensure there is a positive story coming out of South Africa,” he said.