It was worrying to have a state that seemed to be at war with itself, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has said in reference to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s possible arrest by the Hawks.
Ramaphosa, delivering a eulogy at the official funeral service of the late Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile in Alice in the Eastern Cape today, criticised government entities that were taking each other on.
He said one of the things Stofile – a former premier of the Eastern Cape and former sports minister – was concerned about was what he perceived to be continued battles that happened in government where one wing of government seems to act against another.
“And right now we are facing more or less a similar situation where the minister of finance is today almost facing what could be arrest. This is something that should concern us. It should concern us because when a government works well it should be a government that does not wage war with itself,” Ramaphosa said.
The deputy president told the thousands who had gathered at Fort Hare University’s Sports Complex – including the under-fire Gordhan who sat silently in the front row close to Stofile’s casket – that he was confident in Gordhan.
“I would like to, as I stand here, pledge my total confidence in the minister of finance. I am confident in the way that he is doing his work,” he said.
He added that whatever the agencies of government need to do, it should be done in a way that does not jeopardise government and the economy and does not demonstrate to the electorate a government that is at war with itself.
Ramaphosa’s comments come after the Hawks summoned Gordhan for further questions regarding what is known as the “rogue unit” he allegedly established while he was a commissioner at Sars.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa put the cat amongst the pigeons when he said in addition to the “collective responsibility” taken by the ruling party’s leadership for the poor performance in the August 3 local government elections, he also took individual and personal responsibility.
Many observers would be interested to see if the rest of the ANC leadership would follow suit, especially President Jacob Zuma who has been mum since the disastrous polls which saw the ANC losing key metros such as Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg.
After its NEC meeting, the ANC leadership issued a statement taking responsibility collectively for what had happened. But Ramaphosa said the leadership should go beyond that and take individual and personal responsibility.
“Even for myself, as deputy president of the ANC, I am prepared to say I do take personal and individual responsibility. This is a moment for us not to only feel the pulse of our movement, but to listen to what our members are saying. Right now we need an ANC membership that will rise above factionalism and rise above petty jealousies that continue to affect our movement. We need to work tirelessly to achieve unity,” he said.
Some of those who attended the funeral included, former presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj, former finance minister Trevor Manuel, former president Kgalema Motlanthe, Stofile’s successor as ambassador to Germany Stone Sizani, and a host of former ministers and current ministers.
Also in attendance were ANC party leaders led by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and national chairperson Baleka Mbete.