Godongwana: Mboweni and I on same page when it comes to SA's fiscal framework

Briefing journalists before unveiling the Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Thursday, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana made it clear that he would not be straying from the path set out by Tito Mboweni in his February budget.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers his maiden Medium-term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on 11 November 2021. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - They might not wear the same kind of shoes or share the same skills in the kitchen, but new Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said that he and his predecessor, Tito Mboweni, are broadly “on the same page” when it comes to the country’s precarious public finances.

Briefing journalists before unveiling the Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Thursday, Godongwana made it clear that he would not be straying from the path set out by Mboweni in his February budget.

It was the first time that the former labour unionist and long-standing head of the ANC’s Economic Transformation Committee addressed Parliament since taking over the portfolio in the August Cabinet reshuffle after Mboweni resigned.

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Apart from making concoctions with pilchards and a lot of garlic, Tito Mboweni was also known for his no-nonsense, outspoken approach, which endeared him to the public but often got him into trouble.

Mboweni was also partial to bringing an aloe to Parliament for budget speeches as a marker of the country’s ability to cope with the worst.

There was no aloe on Thursday but Godongwana’s trademark black hat with a red feather was beside him when he briefed journalists ahead of his speech.

“Broadly, from a fiscal framework we (Mboweni and I) are on the same page. I said to him the other day, I suspect that the only difference between the two of us are the shoes – I wear better shoes than yours. Maybe in cooking, I am not as good as him but as far as the fiscal framework, I think we are on the same page.”

That means tight budgets and no reckless spending – basically, Mboweni’s plan to deal with South Africa’s R4 trillion debt and bring the books slowly but steadily back into balance.

Mboweni also once served as head of the ANC’s Economic Transformation Committee.

Whatever the differences in footwear or culinary capacity, Godongwana has shown he’s a force to be reckoned with – but his budget in February will show just how far he’s prepared to go.

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