- The minister appeared for the first time in front of the state capture inquiry on Monday
- Gordhan revealed that he faced intimidation and victimisation for declining a part in state capture
- He also revealed the ex-president Zuma had an obsession procuring large scale and unaffordable nuclear deals
Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed that he faced victimisation and intimidation for declining to be a part of the state capture, the inquiry heard on Monday.
The judicial inquiry, led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo saw the Public Enterprises Minister Gordhan give his first day of evidence.
Gordhan revealed that government entities gave out preferred appointments, suspicious foreign deals at local parastatals and the ex-president Zumas determination to obtain nuclear power, even at levels unobtainable for South Africa's finances.
The Economic Freedom Fighters protested outside the venue with EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu and national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi demanding Gordhan’s resignation from Cabinet. Black First Land First ( BLF) also protested outside in opposition to "white monopoly capital" as well as “ the gradual privatisation of state-owned companies”.
Summary of key points arising from Pravin Gordhan's testimony
- The minister revealed that, while he did not know all the details, he suspected Nhlanhla Nene’s initial removal as finance minister was due to the fact that Nene declined to sign a nuclear power deal.
- He spoke about difficulties undoing a deal in which Denel became a 50% shareholder of a Hong Kong company, alongside infamous Gupta associate Salim Essa. This deal transpired when Zuma’s legal representative at the commission, Daniel Mantsha, was Denel’s chairperson. Gordhan defined the relationship with Mantsha as “ hostile”, revealing that he was subject to verbal disputes over key decisions at the arms company.
- Pravin Gordhan also testified that he found out that Zuma had fired him as finance minister on the news with the rest of the country.
"It was not until March of the following year that I learned that I was relieved of my duties as minister just after midnight. I was not extended the courtesy of being told that I was relieved of my duties," said Gordhan.
- Pravin Gordhan also raised the issue of his leaked draft statements in the media early on in his testimony.
"The draft statement that I and my legal team had interactions on only was seen by Mr Pretorius. Yet there are already tweets comparing the first and final draft. I would like the commission to consider this, as it is quite fascinating that some seem to have access to these," Gordhan said.
Zondo agreed, saying, "We will accept that as a statement on record. The commission continues to investigate the leaks."
- The minister also said that despite his best efforts to procure nuclear power for South Africa, Zuma had been bent on going for larger scale options.
"Nuclear was considered as part of the energy mix of South Africa. The 9.6GW is consistent with the so-called Russian nuclear deal and what it would have amounted to," said Gordhan.
- He went on to state that Zuma ignored advice to test his preferred candidates against each other when appointing the new SARS commissioner.
"I accept the limitation of my place in government. Having the vantage point of looking at all the pieces of the puzzle, I can say we can all supply you with pieces and allow you to come to the conclusion that you need to," elaborated the minister
- Gordhan spoke of a time where the ex-president Jacob Zuma’s controversial decisions, as well as the lack of transparency on nuclear procurement, made it difficult for the National Treasury to instill a sense of confidence amongst investors.
Minister Pravin Gordhan is expected to return to the inquiry on Tuesday.
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