Senior Treasury official asks to leave
Johannesburg - The head of South Africa’s Treasury,
Lungisa Fuzile, has asked to leave his post at the end of this month, a year
before his contract runs out, according to three people with knowledge of the
Fuzile, 51, informed former Finance Minister Pravin
Gordhan of his plans to leave a day before Gordhan was fired on March 31,
according to the people, who asked not to be identified because no announcement
has been made yet. He’s been in the post for six years. The cabinet last year
extended his original five-year term for 24 months.
“It’s not my focus right now,” Fuzile said Tuesday after
a briefing in Pretoria, the capital. “My objective is that the handover to the
new minister is as smooth as possible and I’ll do everything to make sure that
Fuzile’s plans could spark concerns of an exodus of
technocrats in one of South Africa’s best-run government departments in the
wake of a reshuffle of the cabinet in which Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi
Jonas, were axed. This led to S&P Global Ratings cutting the nation’s
credit rating to junk for the first time in 17 years, while Moody’s Investors
Service put South Africa on review for a downgrade.
On Monday, Fuzile gave a hint that he was considering his
future at the Treasury.
Read also: Assets tumble on Gordhan sacking
“People should be allowed to leave,” he told reporters in
Pretoria. “I don’t want to be permanent in my role,” he said.
A former teacher, Fuzile took control of the Treasury
from Lesetja Kganyago, who is now the central bank governor, in May 2011 as Africa’s
most-industrialized economy struggled to recover from the global financial
crisis. He’s overseen the implementation of a spending ceiling and had to steer
the nation’s finances during a period in which the rand lost more than 50
percent of its value against the dollar and South Africa’s credit rating moved
toward junk status.
Zuma replaced Gordhan with former home affairs minister
Malusi Gigaba as part of the shake-up affecting 20 people. That capped a
dramatic week in which the president ordered Gordhan and Fuzile to return from
a series of meetings with investors and rating companies in the UK.
The president told senior African National Congress
members on March 27 that intelligence reports suggested Gordhan was trying to
undermine his authority and that he and Fuzile were organizing an investment
strike meant to weaken his government. The Treasury has been criticised in
recent years for its efforts to keep spending in check and protect South
Africa’s investment-grade credit rating.