Ramaphosa says SA must 'support and defend' Pravin Gordhan

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said it is the task of South Africans to "support and defend" Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, following verbal attacks on him when he gave evidence before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture this week.

Ramaphosa said those attacking Gordhan were "deeply embedded in what was going wrong in our country". He did not mention any group by name. 

Ramaphosa was speaking on Sunday evening at the biannual congress of the Gauteng chapter of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, and Gordhan was in attendance in the audience.  The event also celebrated the centenary of former President Nelson Mandela’s birth.

The president was in conversation with Stephen Koseff, the former chairperson of Investec Bank, who started by asking Ramaphosa whether he was shocked when the true extent of state capture became clear. 

“As a country we have been going through a cathartic moment, a moment where we are discovering what has gone on in the last nine years. What we are finding is quite horrific,” replied Ramaphosa. 

“And quite a lot if it first played [out] openly [in] the media. A number of people have been very brave and a number of people [...] are now appearing before the Zondo commission, the latest one minister Pravin Gordhan, who very bravely stood up and told the truth about what he has gone through."

Ramaphosa said that Gordhan had come under attack from a number of "circles". “And those are circles still so deeply embedded in what was going wrong in our country.”

Defend people like Pravin

“Our task is to support and defend people like Pravin Gordhan and a number of others ... we should stand behind them because what they are seeking to do is to rid our country of the culture of corruption what had seeped into the sinews of the body politic."

Gordhan and his daughter have been strongly criticised by the EFF this week, who protested outside the venue of the Zondo commission while he gave evidence.

EFF leader Julius Malema referred to Gordhan as "a dog of white monopoly capital" and "corrupt," saying he was in the "same WhatsApp group" as former President Jacob Zuma. "How can Pravin be a fruit of a rotten tree and not be rotten himself? Because Pravin is in the ANC. Why do you say on the one hand the ANC is corrupt but on the other hand Pravin is different?" asked Malema this week. 

In response to EFF allegations that his daughter had received sweetheart tenders, Gordhan told the commission that his daughter had not done any business with the state. "Play the ball not the man, come to me if there are political objectives, don't choose vulnerable targets," he said.

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