Gigaba: Political uncertainty won't affect economy

Johannesburg – Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told CNN on Tuesday evening that he fully supported the ANC's demand that President Jacob Zuma needs to step down, adding that the budget would be presented as planned. 

Gigaba was speaking to Bianna Golodryga of CNN's Quest Means Business at 23:00 on Tuesday, after ANC secretary general Ace Magashule confirmed the party had decided to recall Zuma.   

Gigaba argued that SA’s political uncertainty had not affected the economy.

He told Golodryga there is no chaos in government and that all departments were running smoothly. 

"We are quite positive about the state of the economy and are looking forward to presenting the Budget next week Wednesday."

The budget speech is set to highlight the initiatives taken to stabilise debt and keep the budget deficit within a "reasonable limit", the finance minister said.

“I am still confident that we have done everything that we promised in order to stave off another ratings downgrade.”

Ratings agency Moody's in November placed SA's sovereign debt on review for downgrade to non-investment status. 

"The review period may not conclude until the size and the composition of the 2018 budget is known next February," it said at the time. Moody's is the only one of the three major ratings agencies to still have SA's sovereign debt at above junk status.

“We have recently seen major decisions that have taken place around some state owned companies,” Gigaba added, referring to the change of board members in Eskom. 

A new board for the state power utility was appointed on January 20. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa previously said the decision was part of an intervention in an attempt to restore Eskom as an important contributor to the economy.

Gigaba said the political shift in SA's leadership would be a boon to the economy. "The only thing that is outstanding is a decision on the President which is going to provide political certainty that will be very supportive of the structural reforms in the economy that have begun to take place."

Zuma will be removed by Parliament if he refuses to step down, Gigaba added.

"The secretary general was very clear today (Tuesday). We expect the cadres of the ANC to do the right thing when called upon, as former president [Thabo] Mbeki did in 2008.

"We expect that President Zuma will do the same and if that doesn’t happen, the [ANC] NEC has put in place mechanisms to address the situation." 

Since Gigaba completed the interview, the ANC has resolved to force Zuma to vacate his office by holding a motion of no confidence on Thursday.

Zuma, meanwhile, broke his silence in a SABC interview on Wednesday afternoon, in which he pleaded innocence and ignorance on why the ANC wants him to step down, saying he felt victimised. 

"I think it is unfair," he said in an interview with the SABC, of the ANC's decision to recall him. 

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