/ 20 February 2018

Comeback king: Gordhan willing to serve in Cabinet for another year

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan

Amid speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan says he is willing to serve in Cabinet for a year.

Gordhan has been touted as a potential candidate for the position of finance minister or to take on the role of public enterprises minister.

Speaking to Business Day, Gordhan is quoted as saying: “I would actually retire if I can, but … if there is another year service which I can offer… well let’s see if I have any use.” Gordhan was speaking at a seminar held by Werksmans Attorneys on Monday.

During his maiden state of the nation address, President Ramaphosa hinted at dramatic cuts to national and provincial Cabinets to address bloated department sizes and to encourage a reduction in perks to those in top ministerial positions.

In his speech, Ramaphosa said: “It is critical that the structure and size of the state is optimally suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources.”

He also spoke on adjusting how state-owned enterprises (SOE) operate and boards are appointed. Most notably, the president promised that there would be an intervention in procurement processes at SOEs.

“These SOEs cannot borrow their way out of their financial difficulties, and we will therefore undertake a process of consultation with all stakeholders to review the funding model of SOEs and other measures.

“We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions.

“I want to repeat this. We will remove board members from any role in procurement and work with the Auditor-General to strengthen external audit processes.”

In his seminar speech, Gordhan reiterated that procurement processes were how corruption was being funded.

“Now you have all connected the dots, so to speak, you know that ministers are involved, directors-general are involved, officials in national departments are involved … so you have quite a toxic mix or network that has been serving the purposes of state capture and corruption… stealing state resources, including your taxes.”

In last week’s Mail & GuardianRichard Calland wrote that Ramaphosa’s “trickiest decision will be what to do with Pravin Gordhan, who is playing a crucial role behind the scenes in Ramaphosa’s transition team.”

Calland further went on to ask: “Should he be sorting out public enterprises (because of his fury with the misgovernance of state-owned entities), or fixing intelligence (because of his inside knowledge of how Zuma uses intelligence operatives from their days together on Operation Vula), or back at finance to restore morale at an under-siege treasury?”