THE Cabinet has extended the contract of Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile for a further two years, a move that is likely to assure the markets that government’s fiscal consolidation remains on track.
There has been speculation that Mr Fuzile’s contract would not be renewed, opening the way for President Jacob Zuma to replace him with an ally who shares his views on government expenditure.
The speculation was fuelled by Mr Zuma’s unsuccessful bid to replace former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with African National Congress backbencher Des van Rooyen, which was seen as being part of a broader strategy to capture Treasury.
Treasury has remained steadfast about the need to reduce government debt and excessive state spending and has resisted Mr Zuma’s ambitious plans to build a fleet of nuclear power stations.
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe announced the extension of Mr Fuzile’s contract at a post-Cabinet media briefing on Friday.
Commenting on the decision, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Friday that SA was “privileged to have the talents and firm commitment of Mr Fuzile available to lead the National Treasury, a vital institution within our democratic state.
“His unquestionable integrity and his adherence to the core values of our Constitution make him an exemplary leader in the public service.
“Since his appointment to the position in April 2011, Mr Fuzile has contributed to strengthening the reputation of the National Treasury as a stable institution with a depth of experience in its ranks. He has had to lead the Treasury at a difficult time, following a period of a recession and low growth after the 2008 global financial crisis.
“He has led the team that has advised the government on the difficult choices that are necessary to maintain SA’s fiscal sovereignty.
“He has been instrumental in establishing a budget planning approach that links expenditure to the objectives of the National Development Plan and advancing policies that are aimed at lifting the levels of economic growth.
“During his time, key development finance institutions such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Land Bank have been successfully turned around.”
Mr Gordhan said that under Mr Fuzile’s leadership, improvements to financial management had been put in place. This included the establishment of the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer,tasked with the modernisation of procurement and ensuring the government achieved better value for money.