Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has slammed the detractors of his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, and warned against allowing a “single family” to determine the fate of 55 million South Africans.
Gordhan, speaking during an ANC opinion-makers forum in Durban on Sunday, also criticised the timing of the probe into his tenure as head of the SA Revenue Service, saying it reflected badly on the country at a time it was hosting rating agency representatives.
“Political uncertainly, which is the kind of thing that the Hawks are engaging in, does not help our country and we have said so in public,” he said.
Without mentioning the infamous Gupta family by name, he cautioned citizens to make sure that “no single family or group or individual must determine the fate of 55 million citizens of the country”.
Gordhan said the phenomenon of cronyism was everywhere in the world – this was well documented.
“So don’t think you are unique in South Africa, but we have to find a unique formula in South Africa that we don’t allow what is supposed to be to the benefit of 55 million people to be captured by a handful of people. That is what we have got to be careful about.
“We cannot sacrifice our hard-earned democracy and our hard-earned sovereignty because of a few people who think they can run our lives,” he said.
He said South African citizens should stand up against those who had threatened Jonas before and after he revealed how he had rejected a cabinet offer by the Guptas.
“What have you got to hide? It is only when you have something to hide that you begin to threaten, otherwise you will say ‘I am an open book’. Come and have a look. We have nothing to hide because our conscience is clear’,” he said.
The ANC Youth League had recently called for a cabinet reshuffle, with Jonas being among those who had to be fired.
It had also been reported that Jonas had received a text message saying, “Please keep your own counsel. Martyrdom is best left to Christ”, before he revealed the Guptas had offered him a job to replace former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.
Gordhan called on citizens on Sunday to wake up before it was too late.
“It is time to wake up and be aware of the dynamics unfolding around us, and ensure we protect this movement; that we protect our government and we protect our country.
“Otherwise suddenly you will realise that we have been robbed while we were sleeping,” he said.
He said the ratings agencies had asked the government about its fiscal environment, credit deficit and sources of revenue.
“They ask, if the economy does not grow, what further expenses would you cut, what taxes would you raise?
“They ask you, where are the drivers of growth in your economy?
“Will tourism give more jobs and growth; will manufacturing give you more jobs and growth?
“Will the ocean’s economy give more jobs and growth?”[Source: The Mercury]