SACP Cabinet members might resign if Zuma fires Gordhan

2017-02-24 18:20
(File, Alexander Joe, AFP)

(File, Alexander Joe, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The SACP has not ruled out an en masse resignation of its members in Cabinet should President Jacob Zuma fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the discussion, but nothing is off the table when we look at what might transpire,” SAPC first deputy secretary Jeremy Cronin said on Friday, when asked if they would consider having their members resign.

Cronin is deputy public works minister. SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande is higher education minister. Other SACP officials include Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, and Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana.

The SACP is holding its central executive committee meeting in Johannesburg until Sunday. The party’s highest decision-making body between conferences is meeting amid speculation that Zuma is likely to reshuffle his Cabinet as early as next week.

Cronin said they needed to ensure the fight against looting and "those who attempt to suborn forces in the Treasury" continued.

The reshuffle speculation intensified after former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe was sworn in as an MP on Thursday.

ANC insiders have speculated that if Zuma did not appoint him to replace Gordhan, he could push for him to be appointed to Parliament’s finance committee. A vacancy in this committee was opened after ANC MP Makhosi Khoza was made chair of another committee.

Another possibility was for Zuma to appoint Molefe as deputy finance minister, replacing Mcebisi Jonas. That position was seen as strategic as it had traditionally been responsible for overseeing the Public Investment Corporation. Molefe was CEO of the continent's biggest fund manager for seven years.

A deputy minister position is also vacant at the strategic trade and industry department after Mzwandile Masina resigned to become Ekurhuleni mayor. The department oversees the black industrialist programme Zuma had championed.

SACP sources said the party had been weighing up staying within Cabinet to "push back against corrupt deals" or risk being complicit in the decisions of the Zuma administration.

The SACP had been critical of scandals that have hit ministries, including social development, over its decision to continue with an illegal contract to distribute grants to more than 17 million people.

Cronin said the SACP was interrogating its role in government in the face of ongoing scandals.

“Obviously, it's to hold the line against corruption, but also to avoid becoming complicit in this situation, obviously there are serious dangers in doing that.”

Political analyst at the University of Johannesburg, David Munyai, said Cronin's statement on not ruling out resignations suggested something could be brewing.

"That statement tells you there is something going on and there might be movements that might not please all partners."

He said if Zuma were to fire Gordhan, it would be an indication that he was digging in his heels to regain his position as ANC leader, as he still had support from within the party.

Zuma was forced to appoint Gordhan to the finance portfolio in December 2015, after pressure from the ANC and the business sector following his disastrous decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene and replace him with former municipal mayor Des van Rooyen.

"If he goes that route that might be the final nail in the coffin for those against him and they would walk out of his Cabinet. It's telling to hear it from Cronin," Munyai said.

Read more on:    sacp  |  pravin gordhan  |  jacob zuma  |  jeremy cronin

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