• David Masondo is SA's new 44-year old deputy finance minister.
  • He has a PhD from New York University, and is an expert on the vehicle industry.
  • He also stood up against former president Jacob Zuma, and has been involved in a tussle with the police while out jogging.
  • For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the 44-year old David Masondo as deputy finance minister on Wednesday evening.

Masondo replaces Mondli Gungubele, who faces corruption allegations from an anonymous whistleblower at the Public Investment Corporation.

Despite Masondo’s leftist roots – he is a former president of the Young Communist League and served as a national leader in the SA Communist Party - his appointment has been greeted with some enthusiasm in the market.

Gina Schoeman, South African economist at the US financial institution Citibank, says Masondo appears to be a stronger deputy minister than Gungubele.

Here’s what you need to know about the new deputy minister of finance: 

Also read: SA's new cabinet: Here's how much taxpayers will save

He was a fierce Zuma critic 

Masondo served as Limpopo finance MEC for five months until December 2011 when former president Jacob Zuma placed the province under administration with the help of then-finance minister Pravin Gordhan. 

At the time, the usually soft-spoken Masondo lashed out against Zuma, accusing him of trying to undermine the province to silence opponents ahead of the Mangaung conference. Limpopo was a stronghold for Zuma foe Julius Malema, who was president of the ANC Youth League at the time.

"National Treasury was used to withhold funds due to the provincial government in order to create a cashflow crisis, to justify the disbandment of the provincial government,” Masondo told City Press. He wanted to take legal action against Zuma, but couldn't find the necessary support. 

He’s an expert on the vehicle industry

Masondo was born in a small village in the Vhembe district of Limpopo, grew up in Gauteng and studied towards a teaching diploma at Giyani College, where he led the South African Students Congress (Sasco) and was president of the Student Representative Council. He did a BA at Wits in the late 1990s, where he was elected Wits SRC president. He studied labour rights in the vehicle manufacturing industry as part of his Masters degree.

In the early 2000s, Masondo received a PhD from New York University for a thesis entitled Post Apartheid Nanny State: Case Study of the Motor Industry Development Plan (MIDP). He received the Ford Foundation International Fellowships PhD programme award and the MacCracken PhD scholarship during his studies.

In 2015, Masondo was appointed head of the Automotive Industry Development Centre in the Gauteng provincial government. He was tasked to transform the local automotive industry and ensure that it contributes meaningfully to the province’s economy. Masondo also served as a board member of the Financial Sector Charter Council which advocates for the transformation of the financial industry. 

His current position is head of the ANC’s political school, the OR Tambo School of Leadership, at Luthuli House. 

Masondo has been charged with assaulting a police officer

In 2008, Masondo appeared in Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court for allegedly assaulting a police officer. At the time, police said he assaulted an officer in Sandringham, Johannesburg. But his supporters say he was the victim of a xenophobic attack.

"Comrade Masondo was stopped at a roadblock while jogging in his tracksuit in the suburb where he lives. When addressed by two police officers he answered in his first language, Shangaan (a language spoken both in South Africa and in Mozambique), whereupon the officers called him a "(swearword) foreigner," Cosatu said in a statement at the time, describing Masondo as "a gentle person". 

He has favoured capital controls, curbs on luxurious consumption and communal farms

Masondo has strong leftist leanings - in 2011, he started his budget speech in Limpopo with a quote from Karl Marx (“We make our own history but not in conditions of our own choosing”).

In a column in the ANC’s quarterly magazine in 2018, Masondo advocated that South Africa should follow Taiwanese and South Korean examples to sell farms below market value to small scale farmers. He said in South Africa the state should act as a custodian while people are given the right to farm. “In this policy model, the land becomes public property under the custodianship of the state, and it is leased to South African citizens and non-citizens based on socio-economic needs,” he wrote.

In the past, he favoured “policy instruments to curb high levels of income and luxurious consumption among elites", as set out in a Business Day column in 2011.

In the same column, he defended the strict control of capital outflows.

"SA does not take extreme measures such as those in South Korea, where illegal capital flight is punishable by death. But policy sticks to keep the investable surplus in SA must be found."

“The economic crisis requires bold leadership, political will and militant working class movements to tackle the structural inequalities rooted in the unequal ownership of the key strategic resources. Unfortunately we don’t have all of these in SA. So business can relax,” he said in closing.

He has soccer talent

In a profile on the Limpopo government website, Masondo is described as a “good soccer player”, who is a fan of the game. He is married and has two children. 

With his siblings, he started the Topisa Trust, in honour of his mother, Topisa Evelyn Maluleke. The trust's aim is to help children in the Mbhokota, Bokisi and Chavani villages in Limpopo to go to university. 

Unlike his boss, Masondo isn't a sharer

While finance minister ‘Tweeto’ Mboweni famously loves social media, and readily shares recipes and ruminations, his new deputy is taking a more careful approach.

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