Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Ministers Pravin Gordhan has used his testimony at the state capture inquiry to hit back at his detractors saying "I am not a commodity for sale and I think the Guptas learnt that too".
Gordhan said those who have accused him of doing the bidding of the Guptas or former president Jacob Zuma should come forward to the commission and provide evidence.
"Those who are making allegations outside of this forum should make them under oath and subject themselves to cross-examination. I’m not a commodity for sale, and I think the Guptas learnt that too. I don't make deals for jobs. I don't make deals with smugglers or taxpayers or submit to intimidation or bullying. I’m not accountable to bullies," he said.
Gordhan was on the stand at the inquiry for a second day on Tuesday in Parktown.
He detailed the days following the firing of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene on December 9, 2015, and the subsequent hiring of Des van Rooyen as the new minister for the portfolio.
Gordhan said Zuma's decision had a devastating impact on the markets and some members of the ANC were shaken by the immediate impact and the financial loses for the country. The impact amounted to R500 billion, said Gordhan.
"The devastating impact of this unexpected announcement on the South African economy is estimated to be about R500 billion. Property shares fell by R290 billion. If you retract your pension at that point in time the value of your pension would have dropped substantially. SA bonds lost 12% of their value. Equity was also affected," said Gordhan.
Duarte and Ramaphosa begged Gordhan not to refuse Zuma
Gordhan said days after Nene's firing, on December 13, he was invited to a meeting with Zuma. He said following the invite he received calls from then ANC deputy general-secretary Jessie Duarte and then deputy president of the country Cyril Ramaphosa who both begged him to agree to Zuma's request. He said he was taken aback as he did not know the particulars of the meeting.
"Ms Jessie Duarte contacted me saying that I was going to be asked to do something by President Zuma and that I should not refuse the request. I received a similar call from then deputy president of the ANC at the time Mr Ramaphosa saying 'please do not refuse'. I believe Duarte and Ramaphosa had met with President Zuma over the weekend regarding the surprise removal of Mr Nene on December 9," said Gordhan.
During the meeting, Zuma asked Gordhan to take over from van Rooyen even though he pointed out that he still believed that then unknown backbencher was capable of serving as finance minister.
"During that meeting, President Jacob Zuma indicated that he was of the view that Mr van Rooyen was suitable for the finance minister position, he said he checked his CV with various people and it seemed to be fine. But others felt the turmoil when the markets opened on Monday the impact would be more serious if Mr van Rooyen was retained.
"Former president Zuma indicated that he wanted me to take over in order to calm the markets. He said the people he had been speaking to said 'I was the one who could calm the markets'," said Gordhan.
The minister said he was reluctant to take up the job and decided to do so after discussions with his family and considering the dire strain that the economy was experiencing at the time.
Gordhan said he told Zuma that there were three issues he wanted to discuss and resolve. The first was South African Airways whose board was headed up by Dudu Myeni, the second was the role of now-former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane and the nuclear deal. Zuma never resolved these matters, Gordhan said.
The inquiry continues.IOL