Pretoria – Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan defended the integrity of Treasury and denied allegations that his removal had anything to do with so-called secret meetings intended to undermine the current government.
Gordhan addressed media and staff at a briefing following his axing on the early hours of Friday morning. Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas were met with rousing applause when they walked into the room at Treasury.
Speaking on the Cabinet reshuffle, he said: “We also stayed up like you last night - we learnt our fate from the TV screen, not from a phone call or chat or conversation.”
Gordhan said it was questionable that the integrity of Treasury had to be undermined and discredited to satisfy another objective.
He served as finance minister from 2009 to 2014, taking the post up again in 2015 following the events dubbed as 9/12 when President Jacob Zuma replaced Nhlanhla Nene with David van Rooyen. At the time Gordhan was working as part of the Back to Basics programme part of Cooperative Governance Traditional Affairs (Cogta).
“I have to remind people that I didn’t apply for this job... I was asked as part of national service to take this job.”
He added that it was a “great privilege” to serve South Africa as minister and deputy minister of finance. “We must thank President Zuma for the opportunity to serve South Africa.”
“As the finance family, we have to offer as much stability to the country as much as possible,” he said. He explained it is important for investors, business people, rating agencies and South Africans to know their finances are safe in hands of government.
Gordhan added that the staff at Treasury will commit to a proud tradition of managing and maintaining macro-economic stability in the country. He said that although he was called back from the annual investor roadshow, he had met with two rating agencies - Moody’s and Fitch - and had a teleconference with Standard and Poor’s.
South Africans need to ensure they have the right political leadership and administrative leadership, fulfilling responsibilities within the ambit of the Constitution and in line with public interest, he said.