SACP, ANC leaders oppose president’s bid to replace Gordhan with Molefe
President Jacob Zuma’s plan to boot out Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, based on what is claimed to be a damning intelligence report, and replace him with former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe, has been rejected by the SACP and half of the top six ANC officials.
Details have emerged of how Zuma went to two meetings on Monday armed with an intelligence report believed to contain claims that Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, had scheduled meetings with people who wanted to overthrow the government.
SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said a delegation of SACP office bearers had told Zuma the party did not agree with his plans to remove Gordhan and Jonas.
Sources said Zuma met the same opposition when he tabled the matter before the party’s top six officials the same day.
This could explain why Zuma has delayed announcing changes to his cabinet.
All eyes were on the Union Buildings until late last night as Zuma held a meeting with his cabinet.
Speculation was rife that Zuma might announce the changes after the meeting.
The president is under pressure from his camp to remove Gordhan to show he is still in charge and to prove he is serious about fighting “white monopoly capital”.
At Monday’s meeting, the SACP delegation had also opposed Zuma’s intention to appoint Molefe in Gordhan’s place, Mapaila said.
“For the record, we did not agree. In fact we opposed it – we opposed [the planned reshuffle] on record,” he said.
Mapaila said although the SACP had agreed on the confidentiality of the meeting, that confidentiality was broken when the story was leaked to the media.
He said his decision to speak out was not a violation of the tripartite alliance protocol, but was to counter an impression that had been created, through the leaks, that the SACP had supported Gordhan’s removal.
“If the president wants to act he must not use us,” Mapaila said.
“We hold comrade Pravin and comrade Mcebisi in high regard.
“I don’t believe these comrades can sell [out] the country. That is my view.”
Mapaila revealed that the SACP delegation had told Zuma to “give Pravin the benefit of the doubt” and not act on a report compiled by a “rogue” intelligence unit.
Zuma had told them that the report said “these comrades may not be acting in the interests of this country”.
Mapaila said: “We said what about the ministers who travel up and down to Dubai – why don’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?”
Zuma had also struggled to convince the ANC top six during a meeting on Monday, sources said.
Insiders said secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa rejected Molefe’s name. The meeting proposed that Zuma fire under-performing ministers, including Bathabile Dlamini of Social Development, Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Des van Rooyen of Cooperative Governance.
Other sources revealed that the “intelligence” report, the origin of which could not be verified, states that Gordhan would have told bankers in London to stand with the Treasury in its fight against the Presidency and the Guptas.
State Security Agency spokesman Brian Dube said he had no knowledge of any intelligence report on Gordhan.
For some time now, there has been some push-back by ANC leaders against Zuma’s intentions to fire Gordhan.
But he and his backers have insisted that it is his prerogative to fire and appoint ministers.
Insiders said Zuma told the top six his relationship with Gordhan was irreparable and he could not trust the finance minister.
Gordhan, who attended the funeral of struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada yesterday, declined to comment.
But he became emotional when he was saluted “irrespective of whether you are a minister or not” by the Kathrada Foundation at the service.