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Sat Aug 27 03:19:41 CAT 2016

'Cabinet must back Pravin'

Shaun Smillie | 15 March, 2016 00:45
ROAD WARRIORS: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan briefed the media yesterday on his investor roadshow to London and the US last week. In Gordhan's overseas team were Cas Coovadia, MD of the Banking Council of SA, centre, and Telkom chairman Jabu Mabuza, right
Image by: ALON SKUY

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan needs the full buy-in of his cabinet if his plan to turn around the economy is to work.

Gordhan reported back yesterday on the roadshow to London, Boston and New York where he and a delegation of business leaders, labour representatives and government officials met more than 250 investors.

Investors had raised issues about South Africa's slow economic growth, investment confidence, sovereign credit ratings and the political environment.

"Not withstanding what is happening in the global economy with the volatility and uncertainty we see, we as South Africans have to take full responsibility for our own economy," he said.

But he reassured South Africans that they were resilient and that the country's economy was not the "worst in the world".

Gordhan said investors were watching the country closely and the events of December, dubbed 9/12, when President Jacob Zuma replaced then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, were noticed "beyond South Africa's borders".

He said the coming months were critical as the country was expected to demonstrate concrete steps to create higher economic growth, to prevent an investment downgrade and curb unemployment, poverty and inequality.

The finance minister said little about his issues with the Hawks and the questions he had to answer, or his conflict with SARS head Tom Moyane. "The president said that he is dealing with the matter. Let's give him some time," he said.

But analysts felt that while the roadshow was good in addressing concerns of investors to whom South Africa owes in excess of R800-billion, there were hurdles that had to be overcome.

"The rest of the cabinet needs to come to the party. The others need to muster, they need to join the movement," said economist Iraj Abedian, who said there appeared to be two governments: one supporting Gordhan and efforts to turn the economy around and another who didn't.

Economist Dawie Roodt said Gordhan can do little to turn around the economy without the involvement of other ministers.

"I will be surprised if we don't get a downgrade, and it has to do with economic growth," he said.

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