Sachs heads to Gauteng

2017-11-19 05:58
Michael Sachs. (Image via YouTube)

Michael Sachs. (Image via YouTube)

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Treasury budget head Michael Sachs will not be lost to the public service. After a great brouhaha about his resignation, Sachs is heading to the Gauteng government, where he will help sort out its troubled health department.

Sachs’ resignation shook the markets this week, because of speculation that he quit in protest against how increasing interference from President Jacob Zuma was undermining Treasury.

City Press learnt that a few days before Sachs resigned, he had asked for a transfer to the Gauteng provincial government.

In addition, Gauteng Premier David Makhura sent an official request to the office of Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, asking for a lateral transfer for Sachs.

Makhura said he needed his skills “to stabilise the finances of the Gauteng department of health, which poses a major risk at the moment”.

Makhura’s spokesperson, Phumla Sekhonyane, said Sachs was earmarked to replace Annette Griessel, who left the policy coordination, monitoring and evaluation division in the premier’s office and transferred to the national department of women.

City Press saw a copy of the communiqué from Sachs sent to both Gigaba and to Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane. The pair only received the message last week, while on their way to China for an international roadshow.

“As indicated to Dondo … I can no longer continue in my role as deputy director-general. It is my intention, however, to remain in the public sector. The premier of Gauteng has agreed to absorb me through a transfer,” the message reads.

“In any case, I am determined to terminate my employment at National Treasury before the end of the year as I cannot, in good conscience, lead the process of preparing the 2018 budget in the current circumstances.”

His resignation sparked a public outcry about a suspected purge of credible administrators in Treasury to ensure that Zuma gets his way. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said he hoped Sachs could be persuaded to change his mind and he intended to discuss the matter with Gigaba.

Zuma was seen as using the university fees issue to pit students against Treasury.

But Gigaba’s allies were furious that, before he could return to process Sachs’ transfer request, Sachs had already gone public about a “resignation”, catching the Treasury off guard and forcing it to issue a media statement confirming it.

“Before they even came back to him, he was in the media,” said a source, who accused Sachs of being a part of “a plot to destabilise Treasury and put the blame on Gigaba’s doorstep”.

Gigaba was expected back in the country on Friday, and the items on his to-do list would include processing the transfer request.

“He must now face the boss and ask for a transfer,” said those close to Gigaba. They said the approach Sachs had taken “had muddied the waters because he tried to create a storm in a teacup.

“He threw a stunt because there is no resignation letter on Gigaba’s table. He spoke to Makhura and agreed that Makhura will request a transfer. It was done hastily this week.”

However, Gigaba is unlikely to decline the request, despite the fact that “the normal government process of dealing with these things has not been followed”.

Both Gigaba and Makhura ought to have first discussed the implications of such a move before any documents were processed, said a source.

Sachs declined to comment and referred City Press to the Treasury’s media statement. “It addressed these matters accurately and factually and I have nothing further to add,” he said.

Gigaba’s associates accused Sachs of being among a small group in Treasury that sought to present Gigaba as a failure, in the hopes that his predecessor, Pravin Gordhan, would come back if the ANC’s December national elective conference favoured candidates opposed to Zuma’s preferred successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Gordhan is seen to be Ramaphosa’s favourite. Former Gauteng finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe, who is active in the group of ANC stalwarts aggrieved by Zuma’s leadership, was mentioned as a close ally of Sachs. Sachs served in the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee and allegedly raised concerns about Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle to his colleagues in Treasury.

Read more on:    national treasury  |  michael sachs  |  gauteng

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