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Gordhan: Citizens should take collective responsibility for SA’s democracy

The finance minister says the medium term budget policy statement has displayed the strength of the country’s fiscal framework.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says South Africans should take collective responsibility for the country’s democracy and demand accountability and transparency of those in charge.

Gordhan spoke at the Discovery Leadership Summit in Sandton on Monday where he talked at length about the functioning of state institutions as important toward upholding the Constitution.

Other speakers included Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, who spoke about the lessons that could be learnt from Brexit and Donald Trump’s election to the white house, saying there is an increase in populist rhetoric.

As a finance team prepares to meet with ratings agencies soon, Gordhan says there isn't one person responsible for policy and doubts there will be a fall guy if South Africa is downgraded to junk status.

He says the medium term budget policy statement has displayed the strength of the country’s fiscal framework.

Ferguson also pointed to the failure of globalisation as the world edges more toward populism and a backlash against liberal views.

Most panelists agreed that growing inequality and shocking geopolitical events such as Brexit and Trump’s election present an uncertain future globally.

As the possibility of junk status looms, Gordhan says over the next week the agencies will be looking at the country’s institutions, which he says have demonstrated their strength in various ways.

The finance minister says another factor that will be considered is what he has called “political noise” which Gordhan says is relative and South Africa isn’t necessarily the loudest in the world.

Gordhan has made a plea that there be a collective focus on the national interest being placed at the forefront as they prepare to meet with agencies over the next few weeks.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)