POLITICS

New Treasury Boss Dondo Mogajane 'Is A Company Man'

Mogajane has served in many senior positions at National Treasury, including deputy director-general of public finance.

08/06/2017 17:58 SAST | Updated 08/06/2017 17:58 SAST
Pieter du Toit
National Treasury's headquarters in Pretoria.

National Treasury insiders welcomed the appointment of Dondo Mogajane as the department's new director-general, which was announced during a Cabinet briefing on Thursday.

"He comes from Treasury. That's a good thing," was how one senior staffer explained the feeling among some in the department's executive management. Mogajane replaces Lungisa Fuzile and is only the fourth director-general since 1994, following in the footsteps of Maria Ramos (now Absa chief executive), Lesetja Kganyago (now governor of the South African Reserve Bank) and Fuzile.

He was deputy director-general for public finances under Nhlanhla Nene, Des van Rooyen (briefly) and Pravin Gordhan, responsible for national capital projects, Treasury's project management unit and urban development and infrastructure.

Mogajane:

  • Joined Treasury in 1999 as a director, working in various department including budget analysis.
  • Was South African representative at the World Bank between 2007 and 2010.
  • Served as Gordhan's chief of staff between 2010 and 2014.
  • Was Treasury's acting chief operating officer in 2014 and 2015.
  • Appointed deputy director-general for public finance in June 2015.

There were some fears that the departure of Fuzile, shortly after the political decapitation of Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, by President Jacob Zuma might expose Treasury to state capture.

At least one analyst has warned Mogajane's appointment doesn't completely mitigate that risk. Peter Attard Montalto, an analyst at Nomura Securities in London, told Stephen Grootes from Talk Radio 702 that he will have to guard Treasury against capture. "The forces of capture are out there. I'm sure he has a red line he will observe when given instructions from above. But he's a fiscal conservative, a status quo-guy."

David Maynier, finance spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance, says his party welcomes Mogajane's appointment, but warned him he will have his hands full with "fixers, rent seekers and state capturers".

"His appointment puts to rest fears that a rogue, such as Brian Molefe, may have been appointed to the top job at Treasury. The fact is Dondo Mogajane is a career professional with nearly eighteen years of service in senior positions within the department."

Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba wished Mogajane well during a speech in Parliament about the Appropriations Bill.

Mogajane in Parliament, according to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group:

The South African Treasury has always been a leader in terms of transparency regarding the national budget, and seeks to empower Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance to the best of its ability. – 18 August 2015

The Constitution clearly states where money should go and the Public Finance Management Act clearly states how money should be spent and who must take responsibility. – 25 November 2015

Mr Mogajane informed Members that expenditure issues picked up in the Presidency, Department of Trade and Industry and in the areas of social grants pointed to "budget management gone wrong" in a particular department. National Treasury would continue to try to emphasise the correct principles of public finance management to the to departments. – 25 November 2015

Mr Mogajane replied this must be deliberated on when they discuss DORA. The Treasury was only flexible if the law put in place allows this otherwise it sticks to the law. If DORA suggests to withhold, it has no option. – 28 July 2015

He was comfortable that NT's oversight role over provinces and municipalities was starting to bear fruit. In the inter-governmental relations division, a Municipal Budget Analysis Unit had been set up, capacitated to monitor municipalities, so NT was slowly getting to grips with the spending in municipalities, and soon would be able to report on them as fully as with other departments, which was something that he had not anticipated five years ago. – 12 April 2016

The role of the Public Finance division in Treasury was to oversee the whole of government, including Treasury itself. The Committee could see it as a partner who could empower it through knowledge and information. The Public Finance division also looked at Treasury spending related to 40 departments and hundreds of entities. There was sometimes confusion about its role. The role of the division was to empower MP's. – 23 August 2016

had to be held accountable. When the CFO and the National DG appeared before the Public Finances division, they would be asked the same questions and issues would be approached in the same way. – 23 August 2016

DIRCO he said was an interesting case. He agreed that it was important to have missions in the changes in the world order that saw the right rising. He added, however, there was a need to rationalise the department's expenditure. For example, in DIRCO there was something called Foreign Service Dispensation (FSP) that allowed for a Deputy Director General, who was deployed abroad, to receive two salaries, one at home in South Africa and one in their country of operations. Moreover, in this position, an individual was also entitled to free fully furnished accommodation that was keeping with the status of the office. Mr Mogajane said that this kind of extravagant expenditure should be expunged from the system, but the functions that ensured service delivery must be maintained. – 1 March 2017

Moving on for this, Mr Mogajane made the point that over the past few years Treasury was trying to 'trim the fat' in government's expenditure so that they could still make service delivery gains in difficult economic times while avoiding austerity measures. This involved making sure that when revenues fell, expenditure was adjusted accordantly and budgets were stuck to. – 1 March 2017

Mr Mogajane replied that pages 9 and 10 of the budget review stated what transformation entailed. Needed changes were spelled out on page 9, with regard to education and skills. The object was to break the barriers of Apartheid township planning. There was a radically different approach to funding. Cities were seen as centres of economic growth. All services had to be brought together. Inclusive growth had to follow a radical approach. The budget was beginning to address that. – 16 May 2017

Treasury appreciated the engagement with the Members. Since 1994, there were a number of challenges from a systems point of view. It took the National Treasury 10 years to really know what it was doing from 1998 and it was learning as it was going along. A historical point of view was important and what Apartheid brought should not be forgotten. There were people who had left because they did not like transformation. Those who came in were directly from university. It was important to take all of this into account on why things did not go very well in the first 10 years. – 31 May 2017