Deposed finance minister Pravin Gordhan used his dramatic farewell press conference on Friday to direct a number of uncharacteristically blunt parting shots at National Treasury’s many enemies.
“Over the past 15 or 16 months, we have been subjected to the most horrific attacks on the work that we do and the budgeting process,” said Gordhan.
He singled out the team from Guptaowned news station ANN7 at the briefing, while the 200-odd Treasury staff in the room booed loudly.
“Does ANN7 have a question? They have a lot to say when they want to attack us and malign us, and try to disgrace us,” said Gordhan.
“Why must we constantly deal with people who are never seen in the public domain, but they mastermind these public attacks?
“They make false allegations, pay someone called Bell Pottinger ... PR firms are hired, millions of rands are spent. To do what? To malign democratic institutions?
“You can’t have fake news and fake Twitter accounts, and be attacking family members. That is not fair play. Be open. Be transparent.”
Gordhan also hit out at Tom Moyane, the commissioner of the SA Revenue Service, without actually naming him.
Moyane recently called a press conference to complain about Gordhan and this week, while briefing Parliament’s standing committee on public finance, he came out guns blazing against those who criticise the revenue service.
“No other head of an institution talks about, or to, the political head that he is responsible to in the manner that he does and gets away with that,” said Gordhan.
He hit out at state arms manufacturer Denel, which is challenging Treasury in court over its blocking of a joint venture with VR Laser, a Gupta-linked company.
“Why is Denel going to court, insistent on VR Laser?” asked Gordhan.
“In what circumstance do you get the chairperson of the board of a stateowned enterprise attacking a minister of government publicly ... Why isn’t that person called to account and told to behave?”
Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas made the same ominous point several times: South Africa is heading down the road to state failure.
“If you look at events over the past couple of years, you see certain patterns. Certain interests are being protected, consolidated and deepened. The State of Capture report ... consolidates the picture of a state and institutions increasingly becoming vulnerable.
“You don’t need to be a genius to see the trend in the country.
“You have in front of you history unfolding ... a democracy being undermined and the diversion of state resources to serve particular interests. You need to connect these dots.”
Gordhan said he and Jonas were now just normal members of Parliament and “will do whatever we are asked to do by our organisation”.
Asked about a potential walkout by loyal staff, including Treasury’s director-general Lungisa Fuzile, Gordhan said officials “would make up their own minds”.