Pravin Gordhan named SA's new Finance Minister

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pretoria - Newly inaugurated President Jacob Zuma has named Pravin Gordhan as the country's new finance minister.

Nhlanhla Nene remains as Deputy Minister of Finance.

Mr Gordhan, not a member of parliament (MP) has been commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) since 1999.

The law allows the President to appoint two ministers, and two deputy ministers, who are not MPs to his cabinet.

Since Mr Gordhan's appointment as commissioner of SARS, revenue collection in the country improved dramatically.

Mr Gordhan was a leader of the Natal Indian Congress, the United Democratic Front and a key leader of the African National Congress (ANC) underground structures.

Between 1991 and 1994, he chaired the Convention for a Democratic South Africa. He was also co-chairman of the Transitional Executive Council, which oversaw the transition to the first democratically elected government.

He chaired the parliamentary committee that focused on the implementation of the new Constitution and the transformation of local government. Mr Gordhan was re-elected for the fourth time as Chairman of the Council of World Customs Organisation in 2004.

Delivering his inaugural speech on Saturday, President Jacob Zuma said the foundations of our economy are strong and we will need to continue to build on them. However he was quick to point out that "this will require more hard work than ever before."

South Africans will watch in anticipation to see how the ministry under Mr Gordhan will continue to respond to especially the difficult economic times and its negative impact.

Mr Gordhan takes over from Trevor Manuel who has been one of the country's longest serving finance ministers. He was appointed the country's finance minister in 1996.

Mr Manuel will now head up the country's National Planning Commission to be located in the Presidency.

The planning commission was decided upon following research on international models on how governments in other parts of the world plan and monitor performance.

"The NPC will be responsible for strategic planning for the country to ensure one National Plan to which all spheres of government would adhere.

This would enable us to take a more comprehensive view of socio-economic development in the country," President Zuma said on Sunday.

Following the first democratic elections in 1994, Mr Manuel was appointed Minister of Trade Industry.

In March 1996 he became Minster of Finance, and his work has been praised by all sectors of society for his forward-thinking policies which have largely cushioned South Africa against the global economic crisis.

On September 23, 2008, Trevor Manuel stepped down as Finance Minister along with a number of other cabinet members after the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki. However, shortly after, he announced that he would be willing to continue to serve under the next president.

His resignation had an unsettling effect on the country's financial market.

Mr Manuel remained in his post under former President Kgalema Motlanthe.

His political involvement started with the founding of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Western Cape. He subsequently became the regional secretary of the UDF and was later elected to the national executive.

He was detained and banned in September 1985. However, it was later found that the banning was not in line with the provisions of the Internal Security Act. He was detained twice again and released under severe restrictions