JOHANNESBURG, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), an independent association whose members include the leaders of some of South Africa’s biggest and most well-known organizations, has joined a long list of other organizations which have raised concerns about power struggles at the National Treasury following the abrupt resignation of Michael Sachs, the head of the Treasury’s Budget Division.

BLSA said in a statement here Tuesday it lamented the resignation of Sachs, the National Treasury’s deputy director-general, saying that it was a development of enormous concern. It joins a list of opposition parties, trade unions and civil rights organizations which have also raised concerns about power struggles at the Treasury.

According to the National Treasury, Sachs was leaving to serve the government in another capacity. But media reports on Monday said he was leaving in protest at interference by the Presidency in the budget process, notably around the issue of funding free tertiary education.

BLSA chief executive officer Bonang Mohale said Sachs was another in a line of admirable and competent professionals leaving what is arguably the government’s most important Ministry tasked with the economic well-being of the country.

Mohale said Sachs’ departure would further undermine the credibility of the country’s institutions and came just before international credit rating agencies were set to publish their review of South Africa’s economy on Nov 24.

In his medium-term budget policy statement, [Finance] Minister [Malusi] Gigaba told us about a new structure in the Presidency to oversee expenditure in the Treasury. We at BLSA are of the view that this could well violate the Constitution, Mohale said.

Sections 215 and 216 of the Constitution ensure transparency and expenditure control, including the right of the Treasury to stop the transfer of funds to Organs of State in the face of any serious or material breach of proper financial management. Parliament carries the ultimate responsibility for approving the Budget, not the Presidency.

Mohale said this latest development raised further concerns over the politicization of the Treasury and budget process and sent the wrong signal to the people of South Africa.