PRETORIA – Minutes after he was sworn in on Thursday afternoon, newly appointed finance minister David van Rooyen said he would undertake to ensure “every policy is directed at creating investor friendly conditions”.
Van Rooyen also said the one area of his portfolio that can be improved on, is the accessibility of National Treasury and Minister of Finance, especially to rural people.
Van Rooyen, whose appointment followed the shock removal of his predecessor Nhlanhla Nene the previous night, was sworn in by Judge Sisi Khampepe at the Union Buildings in Petoria by midday on Thursday.
President Jacob Zuma congratulated Van Rooyen and introduced him, but did not give any explanation of the reasons for the change of guard.
The ceremony lasted only a few minutes, after which Van Rooyen addressed the media briefly. Neither he nor Zuma took any questions.
Van Rooyen said he approaches what he called his “colossal assignment” as a great honour and thanked his predecessors, especially Nene. He said Nene made a tireless effort and left “a solid platform to ensure proper financial management” in the public sector.
He acknowledged that his appointment came against the background of an unfavourable global economic outlook, with emerging markets being especially affected and “all economic indicators pointing south”.
Van Rooyen said he would ensure that all policies were directed at creating an investment-friendly environment, and stressed that this should benefit all South Africans, “not only a few”.
He said he hoped to meet the officials at National Treasury on Friday and promised to engage properly with the media thereafter.
Van Rooyen said improvement is warranted with regard to the accessibility of financial matters. “We want to demystify the functionalities of Treasury,” he said.
He called Treasury “the axis of our developmental agenda” and said it must be accessible, especially in rural communities. He said Treasury and the Minister of Finance are often used as “scarecrows” in rural areas.
“It is our ministry’s duty to simplify issues of finance,” he said.
Van Rooyen promised more detailed information sessions after he met with his Treasury staff.