So, our new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba is about to embark on an international roadshow aimed at trying to restore some confidence in the South African economy.
The first thought which immediately surfaces is that Gigaba is unlikely to make any dent in this country’s almost universally downgraded status among the heavyweights of global finance and is far more likely to be met with a flat-faced “Malusi who?” than have any welcoming doors opened for him.
While his predecessor Pravin Gordhan was known and respected among the blue bloods of the world’s investment bankers, there can be little doubt that the new kid on the block is not in the same league and is more than likely to be left floundering out of his depth.
He is also likely to get his first taste of things to come when he attends the International Monetery Fund (IMF)/World Bank Spring meetings which start in Washington DC on Friday before flying on to meet investors in New York.
And he will be doing so virtually on his own without the normal backing of high profile businessmen and industrialists in his retinue – Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile, deputy minister Sifiso Buthelezi and Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago will be at Gigaba’s side.
The meetings assume added significance ahead of the IMF assessment of this country’s economic health next month, a fitness report which holds huge ramifications for any future upgrade even though we are reliably informed that shaking off junk status generally takes around seven years of sustained growth.
Gigaba is also scheduled to meet with ratings agency Moody’s which is keeping a strict watch on an economy Standard & Poor’s and Fitch have already relegated to junk status.
It is, we would suggest, an unenviable task and hopefully not subject to an urgent recall before the job is done.