When you’re in a hole, it’s best to stop digging. That is a practice not well understood by many pulling the levers of political power in SA’s young democracy. Last night “Weekend Special” Finance Minister David van Rooyen issued a spirited defence of his two advisors who almost took over at the SA Treasury – Jessie Duarte’s son-in-law and a previously invisible “financial expert”. The Ministry into which Van Rooyen was switched issued a statement that is republished below. It opens numerous new lines of inquiry which Opposition Parties will doubtless employ with enthusiasm in the forthcoming State of the Nation debate. – Alec Hogg
Media Statement: Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Pretoria: 16 February 2016 – The Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs notes the media articles on the allegations surrounding the appointment of Mr Ian Whitley and Mr Mohamed Bobat.
Mr Whitley is not the Special Advisor to Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Des Van Rooyen. Mr Whitley is appointed as the Chief of Staff. His appointment is in terms of the relevant public service regulations, together with the Ministerial Handbook, and is linked to the term of office of the Minister.
The Minister met Mr Whitley through his interaction with the Finance Portfolio Committee, when Mr Whitley serviced the SMME sector, while working in the banking industry. The Minister has also taken due cognisance of Mr Whitley’s experience and qualifications for the position. Mr Whitley holds a B.Comm in Marketing and Economics, and has several years of experience at management level.
Minister van Rooyen met Mr Bobat when the former was Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association, North West province, and has since contacted him intermittently, on technical questions of finance. Mr Bobat is experienced in providing funding solutions to municipalities. When appointed to the National Treasury, the Minister called upon Mr Bobat as a result of the latter’s extensive network in the investment banking industry. The Minister is satisfied that Mr Bobat also has the requisite qualifications and experience for appointment.
Minister van Rooyen said that he is pleased with the complementarity of the skills sets of the team he has embraced at Cogta. “We will not allow personal attacks and allegations to dissuade us from the task at hand. We are confident that the team is gelling and are seized with improving service delivery in municipalities across the country, this as South Africa prepares to host the fourth democratic local government elections.”