ANC finance guru turned Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana is a new sheriff town.
Godongwana, who has chaired the ANC’s sub-committee on economic transformation for many years, stepped into the shoes of his comrade Tito Mboweni in August after the latter left government.
In a striking note yesterday, a few hours before he tabled his maiden Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, in the hybrid sitting of the National Assembly, Godongwana said he told Mboweni recently that they shared the same views on the economy.
However, what makes them different from each other is that Mboweni has ugly shoes and Godongwana does not wear ugly shoes.
This is one of the jokes Godongwana told the media before he delivered the MTBPS to drive home the point that nothing much would change from what Mboweni was doing.
In any event Godongwana is familiar with the market as he has interacted with it in his other position, as chairperson of the economic transformation committee of the ANC. It's regarded as the engine of policy making around the economy.
Godongwana stepped into the podium yesterday a confident looking man, who came to lay bare the state of the public finances.
Godongwana may be in the finance portfolio, but has another common factor with Bheki Cele, his other Cabinet colleague.
They are both fond of their hats. But he takes it off when he starts discussing serious policy issues.
He began by laying out the future trajectory of the economy and how it could recover from the pandemic.
He sounded positive about the macro economic outlook and mixed isiXhosa with English in his budget speech.
Sometimes he made off calf remarks, just to emphasise a point.
This has been his maiden speech, but he signalled more for next year when he tables the Budget in February.
But he indicated the perilous state of affairs of the economy and that it needed to get back on its feet quickly.
He was warmly received by fellow members of the national legislature, making it a smooth transition from Mboweni to him.
The market has not complained much about his policy or style. But opposition parties said the Budget was no different to previous promises and lacked substance.
It was left to ANC MPs to give their backing to Godongwana about how he had steered the ship amid the rough waters.
Mboweni had spoken of the storm ahead and the need to weather it.
This was a tough MTBPS and Godongwana did not promise any miracles except paint the reality that the country faces, to get out of the woods very quickly.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE