The director-general of finance, Lungisa Fuzile. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
The director-general of finance, Lungisa Fuzile. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Senior Treasury official asks to leave

By Sam Mkokeli Time of article published Apr 4, 2017

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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

matter.

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

happens.”

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.

Former teacher

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.

BLOOMBERG

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