Picture: African News Agency
Tshwane – Events currently happening in South Africa are in contrast to what most South Africans envisaged when the country attained freedom in 1994, axed deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said on Friday.

"I think this is a very important time for South Africans in general. Some of the things and events happening in the country are probably contrary to what we envisaged to be the dream of the new South Africa. All of us, as South Africans should wake up and smell the coffee," Jonas addressed journalists alongside sacked finance minister Pravin Gordhan in Pretoria.

"We have a lot of cases in history where countries make a swift turn and never return. All of us have an interest in ensuring that our country remains stable, that our economy grows, that inequality is addressed and that jobs are created. That is what all of us should be looking for."

Jonas cautioned about the weakening of various institutions that support democracy.

"When things turn to be ugly and bad, institutions are weakened, development suffers almost permanently in some countries. We are probably at crossroads in South Africa. Probably, this we must not take lightly," he said.

"I am sitting here with the minister, not because we feel personally aggrieved, but I think there are very big lessons that we need to take as a country, and I'm not here to teach you those lessons."

Jonas and his boss, finance minister Pravin Gordhan were fired when President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet on Thursday night. The reshuffle left the duo, and other ministers jobless.

The former deputy minister said South Africans must closely observe events happening in the country, and not look at their sacking as an isolated incident. He said the events boil down to a protection of certain interests.

"If you look at the events in South Africa in the last couple of years, there are certain patterns that have seen events that point to a particular interest being protected, being consolidated and being deepened. I think the State of Capture report is probably the pinnacle of that point. It probably consolidates a picture of a state or institutions that are increasingly vulnerable, increasingly being centres for attacks and in many instances to be blunt for looting. That's a reality that we have," said Jonas.

"You don't need to be a genius to see that trend in the country. I'm not going to interpret for you what this means, or what the urgency [in firing the ministers] is. What I am telling you is that you have in from of you, history unfolding. At the centre of that democracy that is unfolding, you have a democracy and economy being undermined by all sorts of things. Some of those are actually the diversion of State resources to serve particular interests. I think South Africans have a responsibility to connect these dots."

Jonas said failure to connect the dots means the country will be left in limbo when the democracy and economy crumble.

"We will actually be accused of having lived with our eyes wide shut, when actually political decay is deepening. I can be more frank on these issues. We have a national challenge and it's not about Pravin Gordhan, Jonas or some of the people. As a country, there is something we need to be worried about," he said.

Like Gordhan, Jonas said the so-called intelligence report which was reportedly the basis of their firing was "nonsensical from whatever angle you read it".

"It's like it was written by amateurs. Even if you consider the logic of it, it's fundamentally so flawed. South Africa is an open economy, so how do you not mobilise investors outside the country to ensure that that they invest in the economy. How can an open economy be killed by two individuals? Families are important but it seems we have some families that are becoming a national agenda."