PRETORIA – Newly-appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Saturday appealed to South Africans to give him the opportunity to steer the National Treasury ship and judge him on his own record of service in the new post.

“The people of this country, the long suffering ordinary citizens, are relying on their public representatives to better their lives. I will not betray our people by allowing individual or special interests to prevail over the public good,” Gigaba, flanked by his new deputy Sfiso Buthelezi and director general Lungisa Fuzile, told a media briefing in Pretoria.

“Every decision I make will be for the public good and I will be responsive and accountable to the public on those decisions. Therefore I will ask sceptical members of the opposition, the media, and the public to judge me on my actions in the coming months, not speculation and rumours.”

Gigaba said he would not be distracted by “external issues” as he set out to “rescue” the ailing South African economy. He paid tribute to his predecessors, including axed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, for their sound stewardship of the economy.

“Rather, I will focus sharply on the task of implementing the policies of the African National Congress to better the lives of the majority of South Africans. I am keenly aware of the sterling [handling] of this portfolio by all of the previous ANC ministers of finance, comrades Trevor Manuel, Nhlanhla Nene, and Pravin Gordhan. These comrades, deployed by the ANC and working with society at large, helped stabilise and grow the South African economy having inherited a bankrupt Treasury from the apartheid government,” said Gigaba.

“I hope to continue the sound leadership and stewardship of the country’s finances which these comrades have displayed. I intend to implement the policies of the ANC as articulated in conference resolutions, in [the] 2014 election manifesto, and in Parliament’s pronouncement[s].”

He said the overarching message was the need to “radically transform the South African economy”.

On Friday evening Gigaba said it was unfair to classify him as a newcomer to the world of economics.

“I’m not going to fill anybody’s shoes. I have my own shoes that I’m wearing. I understand the responsibility with which I have been entrusted. I am not new to government. I have been in government for 13 years now and I have also served for four years in the portfolio of public enterprises. I am not new to the economic sector,” said Gigaba.

“I am an experienced politician with more than 21 years in the national executive committee of the African National Congress. I have served for eight years as president of the ANC Youth League. I am not a newcomer. I’m quite an experienced politician; that’s why you don’t see me getting excited either way because I understand the gravity of the position with which I have been entrusted.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

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