'Intelligence report absolute nonsense': Gordhan speaks after being axed by Zuma

'Intelligence report absolute nonsense': Gordhan speaks after being axed by Zuma
Source: Businesslive
Date: 02-04-2017 Time: 06:04:44:am

Fired finance minister Pravin Gordhan said he and his fired deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, learned of their dismissal from the TV, "not from any chat or phone call".

Addressing the media on his axing in President Jacob Zuma's shock Cabinet reshuffle, Gordhan did not shy away from the controversy surrounding his appointment.

"It was necessary because of the blunders made on 9/12 when a good, hardworking person who occupied this chair, (Nhlanhla) Nene, was told he no longer needed to occupy this chair."

Gordhan said the bond yield moved from 8.3% to 8.9% since the announcement so "as both government and as South Africans we are paying extra to borrow", Gordhan said.

Treasury had gone to the market on Friday to raise R600m in short-term funding but had received bids for only R200m because of investors' concerns about the events of last night

"We have been doing our best to reassure rating agencies, investors and South Africans finances are safe in our hands."

'Intelligence report'

He said the so-called intelligence report that prompted his dismissal was "absolute nonsenese" and not the basis on which a minister or deputy minister should be fired or "released from responsibility".

"There's an allegation circulating around that sickens me that I have secret meetings with somebody or somebodies to undermine this country.

"Let me say emphatically and categorically that there was no such meeting. 

"If anyone wants us not do this job, tell us," he said. This was better than "manufacturing" information to remove him and Jonas from their posts.

“We don’t need brown bags. Our souls are not for sale‚” Gordhan added‚ referring to an alleged bribe offered to Jonas.

He was referring to secret meetings described in a bogus intelligence report which Zuma presented to the ANC'S officials to justify his removal of Gordhan.

The report was also dismissed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who on Friday described Gordhan's removal as "unacceptable".

Gordhan said the roadshow, from which he and Jonas were recalled on Monday, was an ordinary routine one that happened every year, and they had carried on with the programme after the recall so as to ensure there was no fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

He said they interacted with all three ratings agencies this week, meeting with Moodys and Fitch, and holding a teleconference with S&P.

On the roadshow they met 50-60 investors controlling $5-trillion of assets. "That is a lot of money and if they are willing to lend to SA government or state owned enterprises or the private sector because we are investment grade, that's for all our advantage. Our job as the Treasury is to ensure we get the best deal for this country."

Where next

Gordhan said he and the deputy minister had offered to meet with the new minister, Malusi Gigaba, on Monday so they could take him through the key issues which he would have to deal with once in office. "Whatever has happened doesn't mean we wont be professional in our conduct."

There is much concern in the market about whether the senior officials in Treasury, including director general Lungisa Fuzile and the deputy director directors general, would stay and serve under the new ministers

Gordhan said each of them would make up their own minds. "For now they are here."

State capture

Connect the dots to understand the political moment in SA, or risk the deepening of the political decay in the country, Jonas said.

"If you look at everything in SA in the last few years, there is a certain pattern. Events point to particular interests being protected and consolidated," he told reporters.

These ominous comments were Jonas's response when asked why he was removed from his post.

It has been an open battle between Zuma and his allies, including the Guptas, on the one hand and the treasury on the other, since Jonas revealed that the family had offered him the post of finance minister before Nene was axed.

Jonas referred to the State of Capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela, Eskom's Denton report and Denel taking the Treasury to court as all being part of a picture in which democracy and the economy were being undermined.

"We have a national challenge, it's not about Gordhan or Jonas ... but it is clearly something the country needs to be worried about," he said.

Gordhan backed his view, saying even if the state capture report were only one-third true, it should concern South Africans.

"Why is Denel going to court against Treasury? ... The chairperson attacks the minister publicly, why aren't they called to account?" he said.

He also referred to his battles with South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane, without naming him.

"No other head of institution talks about their political head the way he does and gets away with it," Gordhan said. "Why undermine legitimate authority?"

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