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Pravin Gordhan – A dereliction of duty

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan pays very little attention to the requirements of running his ministry other than when it involves defending Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan pays very little attention to the requirements of running his ministry other than when it involves defending Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter.

Published Jun 28, 2022

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Whatever the merits of the Eskom issues are, South Africans are now having to live the way Nigeria has been living for many decades without proper electricity, which affects households and industries, writes Ray Solomons.

THIS morning, there are various reports that Eskom chief executive, André de Ruyter, has said that South Africa may enter Stage 6 load shedding. This in itself is catastrophic for the economy and society. What is of great concern is that we seem to be edging closer and closer to the dreaded Stage 8 load shedding.

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Whatever the merits of the Eskom issues are, South Africans are now having to live the way Nigeria has been living for many decades without proper electricity, which affects households and industries. Alongside the Eskom train smash, we literally have a dysfunctional Denel, a limping Transnet, a Prasa which cannot do the most basic thing of transporting South Africans on a daily basis, as well as the gift of SAA.

DG suspended

According to reports in City Press, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan suspended his director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi, and it is instructive to see what the DG has said about Gordhan interfering and directly getting involved with the officials and the state-owned entities (SOEs). This is exactly what the Zondo Commission warned South Africa about - that Ministers should not be involved with the underlying operations of their departments.

We cannot ignore the SAA gift to friends of Gordhan, who just happen to own the Sunday Times, Business Day & Sowetan. This media house, which can now be described as the captured media, is no different to The New Age newspaper of the Guptas and continues to undermine public confidence.

We should not, therefore, be surprised that Sunday Times and Business Day journalists have become praise singers for Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa. I would be very happy to become a praise singer if, in turn, I get the national airline for R51 and the government keeps the debt of R43 billion, which ordinary South African taxpayers will have to fund for decades to come.

Defending the chief

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According to well-placed sources and officials in Gordhan’s ministry, since the Phala Phala scandal, Gordhan has become super active. He pays very little attention to the requirements of running his ministry other than when it involves defending de Ruyter.

He is forever calling businesspeople and politicians and organising the defence of Ramaphosa. He has tried to put pressure on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) with his networks in business, judiciary and the media to prevent the catastrophe – for Gordhan and the cabal – of Ramaphosa’s resignation. Credible reports from within Ramaphosa’s faction say that the president wanted to step down and be given some time to clean up the mess but was persuaded by a close circle of Gordhan and business backers to stay the course.

Gordhan spends all of his time targeting political opponents of Ramaphosa and others who have refused to kneel down to the “emperor”. Officials in his department say that he was furious when the High Court found in favour of the Cape Town-based Sekunjalo Group against Nedbank. He was reportedly on the telephone to numerous people in the legal department of Nedbank and a cabal of Indians operating in the legal departments of certain banks as well as in the SA Reserve Bank (SARB).

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To deal with Survé and Sekunjalo

Gordhan has also used a former judge to activate the judiciary to prevent a repeat of this happening again. According to the sources, Gordhan had assured the chief executives of the banks that various state institutions would “deal with (Dr Iqbal) Survé and Sekunjalo”, and the bank executives are now furious that this has not happened as they are now being embarrassed in the public space and the fortress-like situation, where no one has challenged the banks and which has existed for a decade is now suddenly vulnerable.

Compounding all of this is Zondo’s recommendation that the banks’ legislation must be amended to prevent them from arbitrarily shutting down accounts. Gordhan has reportedly spent a lot of time mobilising with key people at Werksmans Attorneys, Bowmans and ENSafrica. More of this in my next article.

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Gordhan has never stopped operating from the underground or the shadows, but this kind of conduct is not what South Africa needs right now. South Africa needs a Minister of Public Enterprises committed to fixing our problems. Otherwise, it is a grave and serious dereliction of duty. Be assured that future generations will hold Gordhan to account.

Ray Solomons writes in his personal capacity. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or Independent Media.

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