State moves to fill critical posts

2011-04-23 10:17

The government this week filled two key positions in the economic cluster by appointing new directors-general for the National Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Lungisa Fuzile takes over from the outgoing National Treasury ­director-general, Lesetja Kganyago, who has been appointed deputy Reserve Bank governor by President Jacob Zuma.

Lionel October will replace Tshediso Matona as director­general of the trade and industry department.

Fuzile has been part of the ­National Treasury since February 1998 as a deputy director in the intergovernmental relations division. He was later promoted to head the division.

Before his new promotion Fuzile, a former teacher and lecturer, had been the Treasury’s head of asset and liability management unit since July 2008.

He has a masters degree in commerce and brings a wealth of experience to the position as he helped the government to raise R300 billion from domestic and foreign markets during the recession.

He was instrumental in raising $750 million from investors last month for the asset and liability ­division.

Fuzile also played a role in assisting Eskom raise the resources it needs to fund its multibillion programme through government loans and guarantees, said a media statement from the Treasury.

Bongani Khumalo, the acting chairman and chief executive of the Financial and Fiscal Commission, which advises the Treasury on intergovernmental fiscal relations and fiscal frameworks, was also full of praise for Fuzile.

He said: “Out of all the people who are there, he (Fuzile) is the best choice. He understands the international and domestic markets. He is also a team-builder and implementer.”

Fuzile is relatively unknown outside of the financial markets as he has been keeping a low profile. A Google search by City Press for his picture shortly after he was announced the new director-general on Wednesday drew a blank.

“He does not like the limelight but he will accept it since he is now director-general,” said Khumalo.

One colleague jokingly ­described Fuzile as a “farmer moonlighting as a DG”.

“He is known for liking to travel to his Eastern Cape smallholding by bakkie at least once a month. He is passionate about farming and his cattle. He is a traditional family man. He is very knowledgeable in his field of ­expertise.”

At the Treasury he is regarded as a straight-shooter, somebody who is unafraid of contrarian views.

Another colleague said: “He is a hardworking guy who doesn’t only roll up his sleeves on his farm.

“He will tell if you have messed up but he does not hold it (past mistakes) against you.”

The appointment of Fuzile’s counterpart, October, at the trade and industry department has largely been welcomed by the ­business community.

One of his challenges will be to deal with the company hijackings that have been a blight on Matona’s largely successful tenure.

“October has vast experience in the Department of Trade and Industry and he is fairly well respected in government and the business sector,” said the chief executive of South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Neren Rau.

Rau said October, who joined the department in 2001 as chief director, had his work cut out for him.

“Trade and industry is one of the largest government departments. October will have about 16 agencies reporting to him, including the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (Cipro),” he said.

The commission will replace Cipro on May 1.

Cipro has been plagued by ­challenges which involved company hijackings and October will have to ensure that the new ­commission roots out the fraud.

Rau said his organisation would assist the new commission to ­create an environment that encourages new small enterprises to efficiently enter the economy.

He said October should try to ­address capacity problems within the department.

“Many businesspeople complain that it takes a very long time to have their issues and complaints addressed by the department and we hope Mr October will deal with this,” said Rau.

Professor Stef Coetzee, the chief executive of Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut, said: “He will also have to improve how government cooperates with the private ­sector.”

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