Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, centre, arrives at Parliament to present his first budget speech, on February 21 2018. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, centre, arrives at Parliament to present his first budget speech, on February 21 2018. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The sun rose on Wednesday on much easier circumstances than expected for everyone in SA — except for the man of the moment, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

On the morning of his first budget speech, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the minister had lied under oath in a legal matter relating to Denel and systems company Fireblade. Despite this, Gigaba appeared both comfortable and confident during a briefing ahead of his budget speech in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

It was in stark contrast to the nervous affair that was his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) in October. Gigaba said SA had enjoyed many “positive developments” since then, which the economy and the fiscus could directly benefit from.

There had been speculation that the EFF would disrupt Gigaba’s appearance before the House as they had made it clear they wanted President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Gigaba, dubbing him “the architect of state capture”.

Gigaba said he was unfazed by the EFF’s remarks, and was confident the budget was informed by a commitment to making hard decisions for the benefit of the economy and broader South African society.

“I don’t think it matters who will boycott the budget. We have a good budget and will present it before the House. It is a good story and demonstrates tough decisions and we need to look forward to it,” he said.

Asked about how much more time he believed he had at the helm of Treasury, Gigaba left it in Ramaphosa’s hand whether he continues to serve beyond delivering the budget speech. “We will tirelessly answer all questions regarding each of our personal integrity and we believe that the truth must come out. The President is ultimately the one with the prerogative over the issue and I will support him regardless of the decision he makes.”

Regarding the High Court ruling, Gigaba said the court decision would be challenged and he stood by his testimony, saying something was amiss in the story that Fireblade presented to the courts. “It’s important to highlight that the decision of the court is being challenged. There is an appeal in place … There is a legal problem as you cannot operate a private terminal for a family.”

Gigaba said he and any other ministers who would have to come before the state-capture inquiry to be chaired by Judge Raymond Zondo would come forward and present the facts as the law required. “We will all subject ourselves to the state-capture commission and all those invited to do so will present themselves. In that case we will provide responses to issues that pertain to us and [give] clarity to any allegations.”

In the end, it was the DA that brought a motion to prevent Gigaba’s presentation of his maiden budget speech. National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete said the motion was not properly presented and allowed the speech to go ahead.

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