GORD­HAN’S RE­BUT­TAL

CityPress - - Business And Tenders - DEWALD VAN RENS­BURG dewald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

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”.

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