President Cyril Ramaphosa during a previous question and answer session in Parliament. File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has stood behind Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan amid allegations of racism against him, after he fired Transnet’s board member Seth Radebe.

Answering a question from EFF MP Nkagisang Koni on what steps he planned to take against Gordhan, Ramaphosa said his cabinet had no room for racist ministers. 

“I do not have ministers in the cabinet who execute their tasks and underpin it with unsavoury type of behaviour such as racism. Ministers are not supposed to underpin their various tasks by displaying any form of racism, sexism or tribalism. 

“I have known Minister Pravin Gordhan for many years. I know him as someone who gets very focused at executing his tasks. It is possible that as he does his work, people may feel that they are adversely affected by some of the decisions and actions that he takes. One should know that should that happen they can raise the issue,” said Ramaphosa.

On Monday, Radebe appeared before Gauteng High Court in Pretoria seeking an order declaring his removal as “unlawful”, ordering his reinstatement and the removal of Transnet’s chaired by Popo Molefe.

Radebe was appointed by former public enterprise Lynne Brown in December 2017, along with Arlana Kinley, a non-executive director and member of the audit committee.

Gordhan removed Radebe because “he was unhappy that there was no action taken effectively against Gama”. 

On May 14, 2018, Radebe was removed, while Kinley, a white woman survived the axing. On this basis, Radebe claimed that the decision to remove him was racially motivated. 

He asked the court to declare Gordhan’s decision unfair discrimination, and thus unconstitutional and invalid.

However, Ramaphosa said Gordhan should be applauded for the decisions he has taken since assuming the office of public enterprise minister. 

“But to make it clear, none of the ministers in the cabinet underpin whatever action that they take with a tinge of racism, sexism or tribalism. I will reject that completely, when they were appointed they took an oath to faithful to be Republic.

“Having heard what you have raised, one will take note. But from what I do know, Minister Gordhan needs to be applauded for a number of actions that he is taking,” said Ramaphosa. 

Political Bureau