Indian origin man tipped to be South Africa’s finance minister

May 5th, 2009 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, May 5 (IANS) Indian origin Pravin Gordhan, who has won international acclaim for transforming South Africa’s revenue services, is likely to be inducted as the new finance minister in President-elect Jacob Zuma’s government.

The Afrikaans weekly Rapport quoted highly-placed sources within the re-elected African National Congress (ANC) government as saying that Zuma is set to appoint Gordhan as the new minister of finance.

The report came amid a fortnight of speculation about the appointment of Gordhan, who headed the South African Revenue Services for almost a decade and transformed it into one of the most efficient government departments.

Rapport claimed that Gordhan had been approached to take up the position of finance minister, but there was uncertainty about whether he would accept the position.

The rumours were further fuelled when Gordhan dismissed speculation at a function where he was given a prestigious honour that he would become the next South African Reserve Bank Governor or take up the position of director-general of the ministry of home affairs, but said nothing about the finance minister position.

The Home Affairs Department is one of the most troubled in the South African government, with acknowledged problems of corrupt officials involved in issuing of false identity documents and passports.

Gordhan was touted as being one of the few officials who could help turn this around, given his experience at the revenue services.

But at a function where he was awarded the highly-coveted Paul Harris Award by the Rotary Club of Durban, Gordhan denied that he would be taking up this position or follow Tito Mboweni as Reserve Bank Governor. Gordhan said any position that he was appointed to would be the prerogative of the new president.

Gordhan is a former activist of the Natal Indian Congress, which was disbanded after the first democratic elections in 1994 that brought the ANC to power. His former socialist beliefs were transformed into those of a pragmatist as he turned the country’s tax collection regimes on its head.

Within seven years of his tenure, Gordhan led his team to raise more than two trillion rands in taxes through improving tax collection efficiencies and almost doubling the country’s tax payers from four million.

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