Picture: Phando Jikelo/ANA

Cape Town - On the eve of the crucial Budget Speech, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has on Tuesday, called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba with immediate effect or it would boycott the proceedings.

In a statement, the EFF said that throughout his tenure as public enterprises minister until 2014, Gigaba was engaged in the restructuring of State-owned enterprises (SOE) boards, surrendering them to the "Gupta syndicate". 

"This call is based on the fact that Gigaba is a Gupta-stooge who was the engine of state capture under [former president] Jacob Zuma. It is Malusi Gigaba, as Minister of Home Affairs who ensured that the Guptas attain citizenship in South Africa, aiding them to qualify for BEE deals with State-owned enterprises," the EFF said.

Read: #Budget2018: Gigaba’s tough moment

"We need not describe how critical a minister of finance is to Ramaphosa because he knows that the removal of Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordan was a move to capture the public purse directly by the Gupta family. Without a compliant stooge as finance minister, they could not direct the funds of our country to their benefit with projects like the nuclear deal." 

Gigaba is set to present his maiden 2018/19 Budget Vote Speech in Parliament on Wednesday, where he will have the unenviable task of plugging in the R50 billion revenue shortfall while ensuring spending on key government programmes.

The EFF said that it was opposed to a budget regime that always raises Value Added Tax and targets personal incomes of lower paid workers, to the exclusion of Corporate Income tax, as a means to raise revenue. 

"We call on our budget coordinated to depend on raising Corporate Income Tax as a means to raise revenue. With the state of affairs in our country, high unemployment and inequality, too many people depend on incomes of individuals to survive," the EFF said.

"To raise Value Added and Income Tax is to take more from individuals who already have loads of burdens to take care of. The rich must be taxed to support the poor, and the rich in this case are the big companies that make huge profits and pay workers peanuts." 

 The EFF said that it rejected Gigaba and would boycott the Budget Vote if it was him who would be presenting it. 

"To avoid disruptions, we will stay away from the house for the entire country to see that Ramaphosa is sustaining the legacy of disreputable ministers like Gigaba, awarding them with the privilege of presenting the country's budget which they have ensured it benefits corrupt interests of the Gupta syndicate."

African News Agency/ANA