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Despite the cloud of scandal over his head, deputy finance minister Sfiso Buthelezi believes he can fix the trust deficit between business and government.

Deputy finance minister Sfiso Buthelezi’s plan to climb up from junk status and out of the recession is deceptively simple: he will channel Nelson Mandela to repair the rift between business and government.

Buthelezi apparently believes his eight years on Robben Island, between 1983 and 1991, have prepared him for this task — something he equates with the Codesa talks during the sunset of the apartheid era.

Speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business Science a few weeks ago, Buthelezi said this "trust deficit" between business and government was akin to that between the ANC and the National Party in 1993. "History will judge us very harshly if we fail to bridge the gap with business," he said. It’s clear Buthelezi doesn’t underestimate his own abilities — even if the rest of SA is sceptical. If anything, Buthelezi was seen as fundamental to President Jacob Zuma completing the capture of national treasury, symbolised by the booting out of Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas and replacing them with Malusi Gigaba and Buthelezi. But Buthelezi says that when business has questioned treasury, he has stood up to the business lobby — in the same way that Mandela stood up to FW De Klerk. "Do you know what Mandela did? He said: ‘I would like to respond to FW de Klerk.’ And he went for him, he went for the jugular. After that, they came out and they realised again that we need to create a democrati...

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