Pretoria – Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan had a go at President Jacob Zuma and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini when he addressed the memorial service of the late Struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada in Pretoria this evening.
Former finance minister, Pravin Gordhan speak at the memorial service for anti-apartheid struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada held at Greek Hall in Brooklyn, Pretoria. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi
"I'd like to politely say I was not fired; I was relieved of my responsibilities,” he said at the first of four memorial services for the late Kathrada.
"Some people are interpreting my appearance on these platforms and campaigning as me wanting my job back. This is not about me or Mcebisi Jonas (his axed deputy). I don't want my job back. I was meant to retire a long time ago. But don't try to malign me. I didn't apply for this job. I was asked to take it on."
Gordhan took time to reflect on the past 10 days which he called quite interesting. "It started with an SMS saying come back. I had to change my flight from Tuesday to Monday. Then Comrade Kathy dies. Then the funeral. Then the reshuffle. Then on Monday we are told about the reshuffle."
He said some people didn't want to understand the importance of a roadshow and how South Africa would have to borrow £100 million this year.
"There's this new phenomenon that the rand must fall and all you need to do is pick it up. That's the incorrect thing to tell poor people," Gordhan said.
He said he never attacked a colleague in public as a matter of principle, but he was going to break it. "There's a limit to the lies one can tolerate. Don't blame the chief executive of Sassa or the Treasury and leave 17 million people in anxiety. Take ownership and say I did not keep an eye on this as I should have," Gordhan said of Dlamini.
Neeshan Balton, executive director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, tried to explain what happened when he had to tell the ANC that Zuma was not welcomed to Kathrada's funeral.
He said Kathrada asked that it be conveyed in a most dignified manner as possible, but somehow it was portrayed in the media as the family's wish and not Kathrada's himself.
He asked that people join them at the march starting at Church Square on Thursday.