Talking economy and politics with MEC Brown

Talking economy and politics with MEC Brown

Most economies across the globe experienced a slowdown in their economy. South Africa, and in particular the Free State was not immune to this. Countries had to make strides to survive 2022. Free State MEC for Finance Hon. Gadija Brown takes us through the economic challenges and her political ambitions.


MEC Gadija Brown is one of the great minds and leaders the Free State has ever produced, a grinder herself and her soft power and open policy that involves everyone has produced great results for her department, as such, Treasury has obtained a clean audit outcome in 2022.

Brown says, though COVID-19 has negatively affected the economy globally and in our country, there are other factors that contributed to the slowing down of the economy. Matters that affected the economic outlook include the Russia- Ukraine war, inflation rising, petrol prices skyrocketing and the cost of living and interest rates increasing.

“Whatever small amount was available for consumer spending, has now reduced to either paying loans, their debts or any other obligations; so it has slowed down the economy,” said Brown.

According to Brown, due to the slowing down of the economy globally, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced the global economic outlook projections from 3.6% to 2%, the BRICS economies were projected to 9% but reduced to 7%. The domestic South African economy was projected at 3% but has since been reduced to 1.6%. The South African debt to GDP ratio has significantly increased reaching 71%; the MEC says the country hopes that it will stabilise at 74%.

The country’s spending is more than its income, which is a challenge that government is trying to get right by stimulating the economy and create economic mechanisms to drive growth and build revenue in government. One of the challenges that Brown pointed out was that, the country is experiencing more and more people depending on social grants; but if jobs can be created for those individual, it will assist in boosting the economy.

“In regards with job creation, we have seen a nice improvement in terms of the numbers of jobs but we need to look at the net effect. Those are some of our analysis and conversations that we are trying to work through and really try and understand how best we can try and improve our economy; we are challenged at the moment but I believe that we have to make the right decisions, funding wise and investment wise to see how best we can add to pushing the economy to lift up a bit” she said.

The Free State

Brown says it is unfortunate that the Free State is not one of the most industrialized and productive economy. “We have the primary sector that has slowed down due to the mines that are now disinvesting, agriculture, based on the global environment has seen a little bit of a tough time due to weather conditions, the foot and mouth disease also has come into play,” she said

The MEC says one of the things that hurt the economy is that we import too much, not only from China but from other countries as well. Brawn says the country and the Free State needs to start producing and processing products to finished goods and sell them to re-ignite the economy.

Brown says policy reform will help in growing the economy. “Right now for the next six to eight months, there will be volatility in our political environment, due to various political parties going through either conferences or they are going through restructuring, or there are some changes in the political sphere; I believe that in the next couple of months is going to be volatile,” remarked the MEC.

”Economics is twofold, you either find that whatever happens can bring major sustainability and will create safety for decisions to be made, or on the other hand, it can go the other way and we have to start over; but in both ways there are opportunities, with any failure or challenge, lies an opportunity,” she continued.


Gadija Brown, who is a political administrator and a professional, said when she decided to serve as MEC, it was not necessarily her choice, but that of the collective, especially that of her branch in ward 20 in Fezile Dabi. Brown says her stance is that her political party, the ANC, has the best constitution out of all political parties.

When asked if she will avail herself should she be called at national level, the modest MEC said that will be up to her party.

“The African National Congress, being a liberation movement, not only for South Africa but for Africa; we stood united as South Africans dealing with a core issue and we still stand united as South Africans dealing with core issues. For me poverty is still exceptionally high in our country, inequality- we are number one out of 164 countries, inequality is a huge thing.

Unemployment, if a party like CPC in China can have just a little bit over zero percent unemployment rate where you have a population size of 1.4 billion, it means we have still have a lot of work to do. My vote goes to the collective and I stand by the collective in the decision making of leadership, whether at national level or provincial level or at branch level. It is about the people who believe that this is an elective individual that will serve the collective’s interest,” she said.

Brown said the ANC’s position in the world is critical, from an ideological perspective, the party remains to faithful to its core identity, to their mandate; which is about the African child and the needs of that African child.

“Based on our history, on our past, but also what it is that we need as a young nation to move forward. Ultimately, it is the balance of forces, our responsibility and our relationships with other countries and the manner in which we want to position ourselves in the world and in the country is critically important; and the ANC is very clear about it,” she asserted.

Brown says she will forever remain a loyal member of the ANC and wherever the party deploys her to do, she will be grateful for that.

Asked if she has any ambitions of running for premier, she responded. “Ooh my goodness, I think that is too ambitious, I don’t think that it will happen anytime soon; maybe 10 or 11, 12 years from now. Either way, as the executive we are a collective, we make decisions amongst each other and the Premier is the is the ultimate decision maker, but I can assure you that we work as a team and to have that opportunity is a great honour but a huge responsibility.”

As the ANC goes to conference on the weekend 20 to 22 January 2023, Brown says should she be deployed to another post, there are capable individuals who can continue with the good work already done in her Treasury Department and who can take it a little bit more further than what she has done. “We have very smart people in our collective,” she concluded.


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