Meet provincial Treasury head Simiso Magagula

2010-03-09 00:00

“THE biggest challenge of being the head of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury is that the needs of our people in the province are a lot more than the finances allocated to us.”

These are the words of Simiso Leslie Magagula (42), newly appointed head of the Finance Department.

After acting as the HoD for the department since February last year, last Wednesday — just a day before the presentation of the provincial budget — Magagula’s position was made substantive by Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Magagula said that as a result of having to do a lot of things with an even smaller budget, the treasury has proposed to put in place stringent cost-cutting measures “so that we can release funding into servicing the needs of the people”.

“One of the key priorities is to ensure that the provincial financial resources are well managed so that the province can also finance a range of government projects, including infrastructural development.

“I also want to assist municipalities to achieve good financial management and service delivery as mandated by the Municipal Finance Management Act.

“We have got to eliminate fraud and corruption in supply chain management at all levels of government in the province,” Magagula said.

He disclosed that the Treasury has embarked on a programme of educating the people of KZN about financial matters.

“The programme is called financial literacy. We teach people how to manage their personal finances. That will help the people of the province not to be overly indebted as that will get them into financial crises since they will not be able to service their debt obligations.”

Magagula was born at KwaMsane in the Mtubatuba area of northern KZN to KaMathe Khanyi and Bethuel Magagula 42 years ago.

He started his early education at Nqiwaneni Primary School, attended Ikusasa Secondary School and matriculated with exemption in 1984.

Due to a lack of finance at his home, he was forced to do temporary work in order to raise funds for his studies.

Since teaching was a popular profession those days, it was not surprising that Magagula registered for a B.Paed degree at University of Zululand in 1986, which he completed in 1989.

Ironically, despite being a qualified teacher, he has never set a foot in a classroom, but instead pursued an honours degree majoring in geography as he wanted to be an urban planner. He failed to finish the course.

“In the middle of 1990, while pursuing my Honours degree,I received a sponsorship to study urban planning at a masters level at Miami University in the United States.

“I completed the course in 1992 and worked at the CSIR [Council for Scientific and Industrial Research] as an environmental researcher and housing economist from 1993 till the end of 1994.”

He received another scholarship to do a second masters degree in economics at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, which he completed in 1996.

“Part of the requirements for this course was to work in a developing country other than my country of origin. I ended up in Guyana in South America where I spent six months.

“I then returned to the CSIR and worked as a housing economist until February 2001.

“In March 2001, I joined the National Treasury as the chief director, economic services and infrastructure.”

He worked for the National Treasury until September 2005 when he resigned and decided to return to the province of his birth, “as I wanted to plant back what I had learned abroad and nationally”.

He was employed by the Provincial Treasury as senior general manager, fiscal resources management. His main task was to manage the provincial budget. He remained in that position until his appointment as acting HoD.

“I am really personally humbled by my appointment and I really plan to do my best in achieving my ambitions,” Magagula said.

“I look forward to working with all my government colleagues to ensure that the province of KwaZulu-Natal becomes the best province in South Africa.”

Magagula is also a board member of the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Fund Management Company.

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