Business Maverick

Moving on

Director-General Dondo Mogajane to join the exodus from National Treasury

Director-General Dondo Mogajane to join the exodus from National Treasury
National Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Dondo Mogajane will be the latest senior official to leave the Treasury, fuelling concerns that the institution doesn’t have a proactive and strong programme in place for succession planning.

After 23 years of serving the government, the director-general of the National Treasury, Dondo Mogajane, will leave on 7 June, when his contract expires.  

Mogajane didn’t extend his contract despite Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana recently expressing his hopes of him staying at the Treasury for a little longer. Mogajane has decided to “pursue new opportunities outside the public sector”, the Treasury announced on Thursday.

Mogajane will be the latest senior official to leave the Treasury, fuelling concerns that the institution doesn’t have a proactive and strong programme in place for succession planning. 

Mogajane’s impending departure from the Treasury will follow that of Tshepiso Moahloli, Roy Havemann, Catherine MacLeod and Ian Stuart all now former senior staff who regularly interacted with investors. They were also responsible for returning public finances to a sustainable path and monitoring the governance and financial affairs of state-owned enterprises.  

Godongwana moved to quell concerns about an exodus at the top and unfilled positions at the Treasury, saying a recruitment process is under way. He said the process to recruit a new director-general to replace Mogajane had already commenced and the Treasury “is confident that a worthy successor will be appointed”. Several other senior positions that have been vacant for some time would be filled “imminently”. 

“The National Treasury has a deep reserve of skilled officials with extensive experience who will continue to deliver on the service delivery obligations of the department,” said Godongwana.  

Business Maverick understands that at least 50 positions, at various levels, are currently being filled.  

Investors might not doubt the skills and qualifications of the Treasury’s existing staff – especially at the mid-management level. But the worry is that there are not enough experienced individuals with institutional memory and deep knowledge of Treasury functions. 

Mogajane had institutional memory (serving at the Treasury for 23 years) and joined the institution when Trevor Manuel led it as the finance minister. During his 23-year career at the Treasury he was the director-general for the last five years.  

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Highs and low moments 

Mogajane has seen the highs and lows of public finances, the economy, and governance in the public sector. 

He has been part of a Treasury that helped facilitate South Africa’s period of exceptional growth when Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki implemented well-informed policies that grew the economy from 1.2% in 1993 to 5.4% in 2007 and made a dent in stubborn poverty and inequality levels. 

Debt levels were low, with an effort by the Mandela and Mbeki administrations to stabilise the debt-to-GDP ratio from about 47.6% in 1995 to 22% by 2009. And South Africa was well regarded by global credit rating agencies, which ranked the country high in their assessment of creditworthiness. 

Mogajane also experienced low moments that followed after Jacob Zuma became the president of SA in 2009. He was part of a Treasury that resisted pressures from Zuma and his Radical Economic Transformation cheerleaders in 2015 to approve funding for a Russian-run nuclear energy plant, which would have bankrupted South Africa because it had a price tag of R1-trillion. 

The Treasury also pushed back against the meddling of State Capture enablers in its budgeting functions, and it refused to help the Gupta family when commercial banks closed the accounts of Gupta entities. 

Mogajane’s most recent act has been helping South Africa and its public finances to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. As the director-general, he walked a tightrope of increasing government spending on essential items such as the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, stabilising government debt and lobbying for the implementation of pro-growth and investment structural reforms.  

In a recent interview with Talk Radio 702, before his impending departure from the Treasury was officially announced, Mogajane said it was important for the institution to bring in new people with fresh ideas, especially at the senior leadership level. DM/BM

  • Originally, Khetha Dlamini was included in the list of people who had left the Treasury. In fact, he is still an employee of the department. He has been awarded a two-year scholarship by Harvard University-John F. Kennedy School of Government in the US. Apologies for the error.


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