Pravin Gordhan’s retirement: ‘good riddance’ – opposition parties

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is leaving government. File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is leaving government. File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko

Published Mar 12, 2024


Opposition parties have welcomed the announcement by Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan that he will be resigning from government at the end of the current administration.

The embattled Gordhan announced his retirement from the government on Friday, while his department confirmed in a statement that he had “expressed his intention to retire from active politics” when the term of the current administration comes to an end following the elections.

The 74-year-old politician’s recent years of his government career have been marred by controversies with the collapse of SAA and Transnet under his watch.

To fire the first salvo was the EFF, saying that Gordhan’s retirement left a trail of destruction in South Africa’s strategic state-owned companies while he had “mafia tendencies” in his style of leadership and approach to governance.

The party further accused the outgoing minister of spending the better part of his deployment at the DPE trying to dismantle the state electricity utility company Eskom into separate entities to hand over electricity generation to the private sector.

“Since 2018, South Africa has witnessed high levels of electricity blackouts and interruptions because there was a deliberate effort to bring in independent power producers with their exorbitant prices.

“Today, the Durban harbour port is barely functional because Transnet was deliberately sabotaged to pave the way for privatisation … Denel also remains on the brink of complete collapse because Gordhan was determined to ensure that it no longer produces anything, including book orders that guaranteed payment upon delivery. As a result, Denel’s operations today are a merely insignificant part of the business,” the party said in a statement.

The red berets further said Gordhan’s biggest fraud and corruption since his appointment at the DPE was the “disfigured Takatso deal” to partially privatise SAA.

“Gordhan attempted to sell SAA for R51 to a group of cronies and friends who do not have the money or industry experience to run a complex organisation,” they said.

They vowed to hold the minister accountable for the destruction and what they referred to as shoddy dealings, regardless of his retirement.

The DA entered the fray, accusing Gordhan of “squandering the public goodwill that he had at the beginning of his tenure in his department by choosing to pander to the ANC and, in the process, failed to clean up the mess created by the criminal state capture project”.

The party further said: “When former Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, exposed the existence of deep-seated corruption at Eskom perpetuated by a labyrinth of politically connected criminal networks and costing the entity R1 billion a month, Gordhan decided to close ranks with his ANC comrades. He chose to victimise De Ruyter rather than ask law enforcement agencies to investigate the merits of the corruption allegations.

“He has stubbornly refused to publicly disclose the SAA/Takatso Share Sale and Purchase Agreement documents, citing legally questionable third-party confidentiality. Gordhan has gone to extreme lengths to try and co-opt Parliament into his long drawn-out plan to maintain a veil of secrecy on the SAA/Takatso deal.”

The DA called Gordhan an ANC lackey and an unprincipled public servant for the greater good.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) volunteered to help him pack his bags, saying “good riddance to bad rubbish”.

“Just like the hit song by Miley Cyrus, Gordhan came in like a wrecking ball in 2018 and he has wrecked every single state-owned entity that he touched. We said in our previous statement that he has a ‘deadly Midas touch’ because everywhere he goes, SOEs collapse and workers suffer,” Numsa said.

The Star