Finance minister refuses to give details of his meeting with ANC
An embattled but defiant Pravin Gordhan had a message for South Africa yesterday: “I am still finance minister.” Gordhan, freshly back from an international investor roadshow in London after being recalled, made a public appearance at the Pretoria High Court, where he said he remained in charge of the country’s coffers.
He told his questioners to “ask the president” whether he would remain finance minister much longer.
He and Treasury officials still do not know the reason for their sudden recall from their overseas roadshow, which has fuelled speculation of a dramatic political showdown.
“We believe Mr Zuma has reached his own point of no return and will now push his agenda to get rid of Mr Gordhan without regard for the cost or consequences,” political analyst Gary van Staden said.
The DA asked Zuma to explain why he had ordered the minister home.
“Why does he simply not tell South Africa?” it said.
Gordhan returns amid signs that the ante is being raised in the unfolding political battle as President Jacob Zuma prepares to reshuffle his cabinet.
At a Nelson Mandela Foundation function to mark the death yesterday of struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada, Winnie MadikizelaMandela entered the fray with a dire warning to the country.
“We cannot pretend South Africa is not in crisis. Our country is in crisis and those who do not see that‚ they are bluffing themselves. We have very serious problems‚” she said.
Stalwarts of the ANC, who signed a “For the Sake of Our Future” document, said they were
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“They [people in positions of power] are destroying the values and traditions of the ANC, and the trust that the overwhelming majority of our citizens gave the ANC during the struggle against apartheid and in the early days of our short democracy.”
While ministers rarely appear at court cases in which they are involved, Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, made a point of attending the court action Gordhan has brought against the Gupta family.
He is asking the court to rule that he cannot interfere in disputes between banks and their clients.
The case is seen as the last attempt to prevent Zuma and his allies from interfering in the work of the Treasury before the cabinet reshuffle.
The Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments issued a media release last night accusing Gordhan of having a political agenda, saying that “the truth will come out in the end and today is just the start”.
It is understood that Zuma will political be pushing ahead with a cabinet reshuffle. The only question is when. The cabinet is expected to meet today at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Gordhan arrived in Johannesburg early yesterday and his first port of call was Luthuli House, where he met ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Asked why he had returned, Gordhan said: “I do not recall myself,” and would not give details of his discussions with the ANC.
Speculation that former African Union Commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will be appointed to the cabinet intensified when she was spotted leaving Luthuli House.
In meetings on Monday with the SACP and later the ANC national executive committee, Zuma confirmed he would reshuffle his cabinet.
He has faced resistance from SACP leaders but they were told the president had the prerogative to appoint and fire ministers.