He spoke at length about the reasons behind his axing at the media briefing at the National Treasury offices on Friday. He was joined by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who was also booted out of cabinet. Gordhan described the intelligence report used by Zuma to sack him as “mysterious”.
“This is the so-called intelligence report, which says, among others, that the two of us and the director-general are involved in the massive conspiracy of undermining the economy of this country. And if you read this, it is absolute nonsense,” he said.
He also rubbished allegations that he had a secret meeting at which he plotted to overthrow the Zuma-led administration. “Let me say it emphatically and categorically that there is no such,” he said.
He added: “From a very young age I have been an activist in the Struggle. Why would I want to undermine this country now? I don’t think anyone can reasonably and logically explain.”
He further opened up about how Zuma cut short his roadshow trip to the UK, where he went to meet investors and rating agencies.
On his arrival on Monday at 6am, he saw a message from Zuma that ordered him to come back immediately. “I cancelled the roadshow but we were not going to be able to come back immediately,” he said.
He said the roadshows were ordinary routines and happened every year after Budget and the medium-term budget policy statement.
Despite the fact that he learnt about his fate “from television screens”, he thanked Zuma for being able to serve in his cabinet.
“I always would like to remind people that I didn’t apply for this job. Most of you applied for your jobs,” Gordhan said. Asked whether he thought the Guptas had an influence on Zuma, he said: “Do the Guptas have an influence on the president? That’s for you to judge and not for me to comment.”
Meanwhile, a group of about 600 people under the banner of #Save South Africa staged a protest in solidarity with Gordhan and Jonas outside the National Treasury.
Led by movement's convener Sipho Pityana and former Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi, the group chanted the anti-Zuma songs and slogans, calling for him to step down. Vavi said workers and South Africans of goodwill were mobilised to assemble and symbolically occupy the Treasury building.
He said: ”This is important. We don’t care about the numbers anymore. What we care of is that 20 years down the line when this country had been destroyed altogether and our children and grandchildren ask us what did you do, we will say we were a small crowd that was standing outside the Treasury in the hottest sun of Pretoria and we raised our voices,” he said.
He criticised ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe for saying he was unhappy about the cabinet moves. “You created the monster; sleep on that bed because when Zuma was doing all of this, the leaders were (Deputy President Cyril) Ramaphosa and Gwede Mantashe,” he said.
He also lambasted South African Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande and Cosatu for destroying the workers unity “so that they can serve Zuma’s agenda”.
“They must now sleep on the beds they have made,” Vavi said.
Pityana said: “We are here to say remember as a nation the words of great leader Nelson Mandela that in the life of a nation there comes a time when you have to decide whether to fight or submit. South Africans have to make a decision whether they are going to succumb and submit because of corruption, or whether they will stand up and fight.”
He said Jonas and Gordhan had demonstrated integrity and honesty to protect coffers of the state.