Minister Pravin Gordhan at the Zondo inquiry. Picture: Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Former president Jacob Zuma wanted former finance minister Pravin Gordhan to resign instead of being fired by him. 

Gordhan told the Zondo Commission into state capture on Wednesday that former ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe had called him to a meeting at Luthuli House and told him that the president felt that their relationship had deteriorated beyond repair. 

Mantashe told Gordhan that Zuma wanted him to resign instead of being fired. Gordhan said he refused to so and elected to be fired instead. 

Days later on March 30 at midnight, Zuma reshuffled his cabinet and Gordhan was fired along with his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. They were replaced by Malusi Gigaba and Sifiso Buthelezi. 

The minister said he was never informed by Zuma about his removal and watched the announcement on TV. 

In his third consecutive day of testimony before the commission on Wednesday, Gordhan detailed how days before his firing he was on an investor roadshow in London along with former director general Lungile Fuzile when they were abruptly informed to return back to South Africa. 

He said the roadshow was important for the country because they met with investors and rating agencies as part of the finance portfolio.

Meanwhile, while Gordhan was still London, Zuma had spoken to the ANC's alliance partners about his plans to fire Gordhan and used a suspicious intelligence report as a reason for his decision.  

Gordhan said by the time they had returned to SA the "intelligence report" had been circulating on social media. 

The report contained two pages. Gordhan said he was not aware whether the report had more pages but all he could gather were the two pages. 

The SACP, which rejected the report and Gordhan's firing, reported the report to the inspector general. 

Gupta accounts
 
Gordhan also told the inquiry that he refused to take part in the inter-ministerial committee which was appointed to investigate the closure of Gupta-related bank accounts by the country’s big banks. The committee was headed up by former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane. 

Gupta family controlled Oakbay Investments had sought the government’s intervention in the matter on its behalf, Gordhan said. 

He said he did not believe the process was appropriate and that the government could not interfere on the behalf the Guptas in negotiating with the banks. 

Gordhan also told the inquiry that investigative units such as the asset forfeiture unit (AFU), which falls under the National Prosecuting Authority, should be strengthened to the enabled government to recoup money lost due to state capture. The AFU has the ability to freeze bank accounts.

The inquiry continues. 

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