New voice joins 'rein in Treasury' chorus

11 September 2016 - 02:01 By JAN-JAN JOUBERT

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has become the latest senior cabinet minister to call for a review of the National Treasury's powers.In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, Mokonyane refused to be drawn on the feud between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and other members of the cabinet, but revealed her frustration with the role of the Treasury in the government.It is a view shared by many in the ANC and the government who accuse the Treasury of frustrating service delivery by refusing to release funding for some projects.Mokonyane said that at the ANC's policy conference next year she planned to table a proposal that the Treasury's powers be reconsidered.story_article_left1"It is about how financial decisions are taken," she said."As premier [of Gauteng], I knew that the premier and the MEC for finance had to work closely together, and that there had to be a budget committee. Once policies and programmes are approved, funds must follow function - not the other way around."Fiscal policy cannot nullify delivery policy. We must change the system. We must first set our objectives and priorities, and then set fiscal policy."It is important to invest in infrastructure for job opportunities. Everything that we do must be aimed at creating jobs and an atmosphere conducive to investment."Mokonyane denied being part of a group of ministers allied to President Jacob Zuma who have been accused of attacking Gordhan in cabinet meetings."I belong to no group. I will not be pigeonholed. I have my own voice and I will use it. I know ANC policy and I am never silent when I hold a view," she said.Mokonyane, who is the ANC's head of elections, refused to take personal responsibility for the party's poor performance in thelocal government elections, in which it lost control of the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metros.Neither were scandals related to President Jacob Zuma to blame, she said."The NEC [national executive committee] and provinces took collective responsibility. If there were glory to be had, it would not be taken individually either. I have no business relationship with Reggie. I have a political relationship with him, and a mother and child relationship like I used to have with Julius "Should the president be blamed? No, no individual should be blamed. Not if we believe in collective leadership and democratic centralism."Everybody was part of the decision on which team should run the campaign, but now people look for someone to blame," said Mokonyane."For a better result, it was incumbent on every campaigner to give better feedback to the voter. This is an unfortunate situation, where an individual like the president is blamed."I went to an election evaluation meeting and someone was blaming the president. And I said: 'Was the president the street co-ordinator in this ward?'"Mokonyane said voters had raised concerns about crime, unemployment, service delivery, education and corruption - not Zuma."We need to respond to the voters' concerns. The answers are in the street sheets."Other voices in the ANC have pointed fingers at the party's Gauteng leadership, laying the blame for the failure to retain control of Tshwane and Johannesburg on chairman Paul Mashatile and his team. Some members of the NEChave even called for the disbandment of Gauteng's executive committee. Mokonyane is a long-standing rival of Mashatile.Mokonyane decribed her relationship with Mashatile as a political one and revealed that the two had grown apart as they climbed up the party ranks."We sometimes choose different paths. That is where we are. I sometimes miss the Paul I grew up with."Shortly after the elections Mokonyane came under fire from EFF leader Julius Malema, who insinuated that she had a corrupt relationship with Mabala Noise, a company owned by ANC Youth League treasurer-general Reggie Nkabinde.Malema told a press conference that Mokonyane had "empowered" Nkabinde with contracts. "Nomvula likes them young ... That's how Reggie became a favourite of Nomvula Mokonyane," he said.Mokonyane said the accusations were "unfortunate" as she had treated Malema "like a son". She said: "Julius was a child in my house. He used to come for supper."Mabala Noise has no contract with the Department of Water and Sanitation. I don't award contracts, anyway. I have no business relationship with Reggie. I have a political relationship with him, and a mother and child relationship like I used to have with Julius. We go back to when Julius was still in Cosas [the Congress of South African Students]."joubertj@sundaytimes.co.za

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