NEWS

Lungisa Fuzile Says Treasury Will Survive State Capture Attempts

The outgoing Treasury director general says the institution is strong and his colleagues have thick skins.

10/05/2017 10:33 SAST | Updated 10/05/2017 10:40 SAST
Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Outgoing Treasury director general Lungisa Fuzile looks on during a news conference ahead of the mid-term budget speech in Cape Town in October 2016.

Outgoing Treasury director general Lungisa Fuzile is confident that the National Treasury can withstand attempts to capture it. Speaking at a University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business event in Pretoria on Tuesday, Fuzile said his colleagues at Treasury had "thick skins".

According to Fin24.com, he said: When you have an institution like Treasury, it's very hard to come in and disrupt the culture to get an entire institution aligned to ill intentions.

"If an attempt was made, it would be disruptive, but anyone who wants to do that; I pray for their success. My colleagues have thick skins."

Fuzile announced his resignation in April, just days after the cabinet reshuffle that saw his boss, Pravin Gordhan, fired. According to the reports, his resignation comes a year before his contract is due to end, after 19 years on the job.

Fuzile reportedly accompanied Gordhan on his oversees trip, which saw him recalled days before his firing. His move sparked fears that there would be an exodus of experienced staff.

On Monday it was announced that another senior technocrat at Treasury, Andrew Donaldson, would step down after more than 20 years in his post. The Mail & Guardian quoted Treasury spokesperson Yolisa Tyantsi, who said Treasury was in negotiations about making arrangements to ensure Donaldson was not "totally lost to the system".

Business Day quoted Fuzile as saying on Tuesday night that while economic transformation was necessary, "radical" as a term was problematic.

"My interpretation of radical is that it's just politicians. By the way, those who have studied marketing will know that just by adding new to a product, how it gets perceived by the people who receive it gets to be different - and politicians are in the business of marketing themselves and their organisations. So we should not be too surprised when they [politicians] add adjectives like radical," said Fuzile.

He said that attempts to destabilise Treasury would not work as it had a "strong institutional culture, which would be hard to break".

According to Business Day, he said:

"I have heard the issue of the connection between what has happened at Treasury and state capture. I have got my views on it, but as you can imagine it's deeply political and contentious ... wait until after Monday [May 15 when he leaves office] and I will give you my view on it. But I can tell you that when you have an institution like Treasury, it is very hard to come in it and disrupt the culture and therefore get the entire institution aligned to ill intentions. Such attempts, however, would disrupt the institution".