Johannesburg - “We were consulted and we did not agree,” said SACP second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, confirming that President Jacob Zuma had indeed taken them into his confidence of his intentions to effect a Cabinet reshuffle, that would see Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas fired.
He would not be drawn on who their replacements would be, should Zuma go ahead with the reshuffle.
Mapaila was addressing the media in Joburg on Thursday, following rife speculation that Gordhan and Mcebisi were on their way out of the National Treasury, which some cabinet ministers had accused of being a stumbling block to Zuma’s ambitious radical economic transformation project.
Earlier this week, Zuma instructed Gordhan and Mcebisi to cancel the National Treasury’s international investment roadshow to the UK and US, and immediately return to the country.
This fuelled speculation that Zuma was ready to wield the axe on the pair, but the funeral service of ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada is said to have thrown a spanner in the works, effectively extending the pair’s stay in government.
Briefing the media in Joburg on Thursday, Mapaila said the Constitution accorded Zuma the responsibility to appoint his Cabinet.
“The president of the country, however, is a deployee of the ANC and has to implement ANC mandate. The ANC is in alliance with the SACP, Cosatu and Sanco and therefore has an obligation to consult its alliance partners in exercising political power collectively struggled for,” he said.
The communist party rejected the “emerging paradigm on presidential prerogative devoid of collective oversight”. Zuma has said he did not need to consult when exercising his prerogative right to hire and fire Cabinet ministers.
It emerged on Wednesday that Zuma was planning to use a so-called intelligence report, alleging that Gordhan and Jonas had gone to the international investor’s roadshow to rally support of bankers to side with Treasury in their fight against Zuma and his close friends, the Guptas.
“This intelligence report is indeed part of the reasons given why these comrades were brought back from the outside. We still objected, because we feel a matter of this nature could have been handled differently. We objected to the removal of the comrade, and to the reasons given. It’s important that this part is noted,” said Mapaila.
The SACP was “gravely concerned” about the growing abuse of state security organs and their “meddling in daily political life of the country”.
Mapaila said: “We are aware of a rogue intelligence unit that in our view gathers data illegally, produces false reports and feeds them into the political and public domain to smear comrades. We have laid a complaint with the Inspector General (of Intelligence) and the Minister of Intelligence (David Mahlobo) who thus far have treated our complaint flippantly. In this regard we have noted a rising apartheid era style intimidation and harassment of activists, SACP members and other ANC members.”
He commended Gordhan for the running the finance ministry with “absolute cleanliness”, saying other departments should emulate it.
Mapaila lashed out at factionalism within the ANC and at the abuse of state organs, saying: “Corruption is on steroids, the abuse of state organs is on steroids. We have to come up as the communist party and stop this nonsense.”