Gordhan: ‘I don’t make deals for jobs’

There were no conditions attached to Pravin Gordhan’s appointment as finance minister in 2015, the public enterprises minister told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.

“I don’t make deals for jobs. I don’t need to,” Gordhan told the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — in response to being asked whether former president Jacob Zuma placed any conditions on his 2015 appointment as finance minister.

Gordhan, whose appointment as finance minister has been subject to widespread speculation, thanked the commission for the opportunity to answer to allegations that there had been any foul play in his elevation to the helm of the treasury.

On Sunday, Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) leader Julius Malema reportedly said the controversial Gupta family was central to Gordhan’s appointment as finance minister for the first time back in 2009.

The EFF has been vocal in its criticism of Gordhan, particularly about his alleged connections to the Guptas.

In a statement released two weeks ago, the EFF lambasted Gordhan for allegedly lying in Parliament about meeting with the Guptas. The statement said Gordhan should “fall on his sword for lying”.

In a later statement, the party decried the fact that Gordhan has been painted as the champion of anti-corruption, while “he is part of the problem”.

As Gordhan delivered his testimony, protest songs crept into the room as the EFF picketed outside the commission — as they had on Monday.

The beginning of Gordhan’s testimony on Tuesday focused on the axing of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December 2015 and Gordhan’s subsequent appointment to the position.

After Nene dismissal, he was replaced by ANC backbencher Des van Rooyen. Gordhan recounted how the market was launched into turmoil following this announcement.

Van Rooyen was only finance minister for four days before Zuma asked to meet with Gordhan to offer him the job.

Prior to the meeting then deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and then deputy ANC secretary general Jessie Duarte contacted Gordhan to tell him that Zuma would request something of him, Gordhan said.

“I believe Ms Duarte and then Deputy President Ramaphosa had met with former President Zuma over the weekend regarding his surprise removal of Mr Nene and the appointment of Mr van Rooyen,” he said.

Gordhan told the commission Zuma told him there had been no problems with Van Rooyen’s CV but that it was necessary to replace him in order to stabilise the market.

He told Zuma that there were other suitable candidates, like Mcebisi Jonas and Jabu Moleketi, for the job, Gordhan said. But, according to Gordhan, Zuma said neither of these candidates were suitable to him.

When asked by Advocate Paul Pretorius, who led Gordhan’s evidence, whether or not Zuma had attached any conditions to his appointment, the public enterprises minister said he never lobbied for the job and that he did not actually want to change jobs. Gordhan was the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs at the time.

“As far as I am concerned I am accountable to the citizens of this country … But I am not accountable to bullies in any way whatsoever,” he said.

Gordhan added that anyone making allegations must appear before the commission and submit themselves to cross-examination.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

Not a sweet deal, Mister

Mister Sweet workers say they will not risk their health, and the lives of others, to continue producing and packaging confectionaries

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world