Put people first

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WEDNESDAY came and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan managed to survive long enough to deliver another budget speech.

Who would have thought this would happen after the Hawks sent him 27 questions to answer in relation to the SARS “rogue unit” this time last year?

When NPA head Shaun Abrahams announced last year that Gordhan would be charged in relation to the said unit, one thought his days as the finance minister were numbered. This week Brian Molefe was scheduled to be sworn in as an MP, paving the way for him to become the new finance minister.

Many have written Gordhan’s political obituary and it must be tiring for both him and President Jacob Zuma to have these rumours swirling around. Then again, Zuma can put this matter to bed by either publicly backing his finance minister or firing him.

People must remember that Zuma has that prerogative and he owes no one any explanation. Gordhan said as much. “If the president chooses to redeploy us, as we say in the ANC, that is his prerogative … We have no appeal mechanism. We are very much alive to that situation.”

It is curious therefore why this situation has lingered for over a year without finality. What is the president playing at? Or is it possible that Zuma never had any intention to fire Gordhan but that it was those around him who were agitating for it?

I watched Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas on TV on Tuesday night, trying to put on a brave face. Gordhan said, “We are both humble public servants, we are not indispensable.”

That to me summed up the whole situation. Gordhan got down to business on Wednesday and delivered what many describe as a good budget albeit short on actual specifics and actions. That shows how to carry yourself as a political appointee – do the best you can while you have the opportunity to do so. Leave other factors in the hands of those with the constitutional power to do something about it.

This is a lesson to all politicians to accept deployment. This is politics – people get gigs not because they are perfect fits, but because of politics. Get your head down and do the best you can in the position you have been given. This active campaigning to unseat one of your own because they occupy a position you crave not only cripples government, but also affects service delivery.

Gordhan’s attitude should be one adopted by many of our politicians: Put people first.

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