Cape Town - "There's only so much a man like Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan can take, while the nation is standing by idly and watching," Save SA convenor Sipho Pityana said in an address at the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday.
Pityana said when National Treasury is overrun by President Jacob Zuma it will be game over for South Africa.
"The takeover of National Treasury - if it happens - will be a major indictment on the ANC. When the ANC permits that, the organisation in itself will be a champion of state capture.
"If the ANC sits by and allows the president to run over National Treasury then the ruling party would have sold out SA, not so much the president," he said.
Referring to Gordhan standing in the way of Zuma, Pityana said: "Pravin Gordhan is not a problem to Zuma because of a shape of his nose. Gordhan is an obstacle to the intentions of the corrupt."
Pityana, who is also chairperson of both AngloGold Ashanti and Izingwe Capital, said National Treasury “is the last frontier between [President Jacob] Zuma and unfettered access to the coffers of the state of this country”.
He said “Zuma and his cronies' attempts to loot the fiscus are frustrated by National Treasury”.
“When Project State Capture is complete our state-owned entities will provide unfettered access to state resources for Zuma and his cronies and family members,” he said.
“If you have no sense of what a nuclear deal will mean for SA, think about this: we'll work for the Russians for the rest of our lives. Our children would be slaves of the Russians," he said.
Referring to heightened speculation that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe is making his way to Parliament and may be in line to replace either Gordhan or his deputy, Pityana commented "my question is why someone like Brian Molefe, who has resigned from Eskom for things he had allegedly done, would agree to guard over the higher fiscus of the country and all the country's SOEs".
FIC Bill sent back 'on flimsiest of grounds'
Pityana said a Cabinet lekgotla is currently taking place, but asked whether the real issues will be addressed. "Such as the hard questions about why the FIC Bill was sent back on the flimsiest of grounds. Or why the President pushes for the black industrialists programme, yet, the richest of them all is his friend Ajay Gupta?"
Atul Gupta, Ajay's brother and chairperson at Oakbay Resources and Energy, is wealthier than Richemont chairperson Johann Rupert. He is also a close friend to Zuma.
This is according to the Business Times Rich List 2016, released last year. According to the report by the Sunday Times, Atul Gupta is the seventh wealthiest South African and the top earning black businessman.
Pityana's speech followed a report in Business Day on Thursday that Zuma “could be ‘preparing the ground’ to remove Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is battling Jacob Zuma’s family friends, the Guptas”.
An unnamed source, referring to Zuma’s speech at the three-day ANC lekgotla last week, told the paper that Zuma criticised Treasury “for not availing funds for certain projects, saying his ministers constantly complained about being inadequately resourced by the Treasury to carry out their mandates”.