Business bodies welcome Gordhan back

Genevieve Quintal, News24

Johannesburg - The SA Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa) and the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry have welcomed the re-appointment of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

However, Saipa said the fallout of the recent "catastrophic shuffle" would have long-lasting effects on the country's economy.

"[But], it should not detract from the implementation of responsible long-term policies that will grow business, restore investor confidence and attract foreign investment," Ettiene Retief, the chairperson of the national tax stakeholders committee at Saipa, said in a statement.

"Although the Rand has started to recover slightly following the announcement of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, there is still a long road to travel in order to repair the damage and set the economy on a sustainable path to recovery."

He said the fastest road to recovery was to stop spending what the country's fiscus could not afford, followed by taking action against those who allowed wasteful spending.

This needed to be supported by a budget which prioritised spend allocations which grow the economy rather than kept the majority of citizens in perpetual poverty through dependence on social grants and other state interventions.

Cape Chamber president Janine Myburgh said it was a relief to have Gordhan back in the job of finance minister.

However, the question remained how much damage had been done.

"Whichever way we look at it, the world will see three ministers of finance in a week as a clear indication of a nation that does not know where it is going or how to get there," she said in a statement.

"It was also clear that Mr Gordhan was not back in his old job because of a sudden resurgence of wisdom in the Cabinet, but because of pressure from the people on social media, the sheer anger of people who have seen their life’s savings downgraded as well as the negative reaction of the market and the credit agencies."

Myburgh said it was difficult to find any rational explanation for what had taken place and perhaps the answers would be found in court which had before found government decisions to be irrational.

"The events of last week will haunt us for years and make it so much harder for both South Africans and foreign entrepreneurs to invest in this country.

"My big hope is that the tremendous outpouring of support for Mr [Nhlanhla] Nene and now for Mr Gordon will give the right-thinking members of the Cabinet the courage to stand firm and resist being bullied into decisions that they know are not in the best interests of the country," she said.