DA finance spokesman David Maynier said Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was due to find that he could not fence himself off from his advisor's views or undo the damage. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/ANA Pictures
Johannesburg – National Treasury on Tuesday distanced itself from an opinion piece written by Professor Chris Malikane, an economic adviser to the Minister of Finance, saying that the nationalisation of banks is not government policy.

This comes after Malikane, an economics professor from the University of the Witwatersrand, penned an eight-page opinion piece which called for nationalisation of banks, mines, and insurers in a bid to achieve “radical economic transformation”.

Malikane called for “expropriation of white monopoly capitalist establishments such as banks, insurance companies, mines and other monopoly industries to industrialise the economy”.

Malikane, who was roped in as economic adviser by Gigaba when he assumed office on 1 April, said in his opinion piece that the first phase of the democratic revolution in South Africa, the “post-1994 breakthrough”, was fast approaching its end.

However, Treasury said in a statement that the views expressed in Malikane’s opinion piece were not necessarily government policy, saying that Malikane was within his rights as an academic and an activist to contribute ideas to national discourse on any subject.

“Minister Malusi Gigaba wishes to place on record that the work of the Ministry of Finance will continue to be guided by policies of the ANC, as articulated in conference resolutions and in the 2014 election manifesto. The nationalisation of banks is not government policy.

“The Ministry of Finance remains committed to leverage on all available policy tools – monetary, fiscal and structural – to achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.” Democratic Alliance finance spokesman David Maynier said Gigaba was clearly trying to contain the fallout from the opinion piece.

"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, and appointed as an economic advisor, where his mad ideas can do damage to the economy."

Maynier said the minister was due to find that he could not fence himself off from his advisor's views or undo the damage. "This is simply impossible and will no doubt send a chill up most international investors’ spines."

Last week Gigaba assured investors that the State would stick to fiscal discipline and inclusive growth, and try to avoid further downgrades and in the medium term, to restore our investment-grade rating.

He will be attending the IMF and World Bank Spring meetings in Washington DC. Gigaba has called on all sectors of South African society to work together and support the work that the Ministry of Finance is doing to avoid further downgrades.