A calm and collected, yet frank, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan answered questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, showing no signs of the stress he had been under since the Hawks issued him a warning statement for his role in the so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Services (Sars).
The finance minister also didn’t shy away from calling the Gupta family by name or taking a tough stance on SAA board members or political in-fighting that could create an unfavourable investment climate.
Here are ten significant Gordhan utterances during a parliamentary question and answer session:
– As the head of Treasury I stand here as a free and uncaptured individual – by anybody (said in reference to Floyd Shivambu’s allegation that National Treasury too is “captured” by the Guptas).
– In our society at the moment there is such a well-orchestrated campaign about capture when it is so clear where it is – where it is advancing certain people at the disadvantage of 55 million people.
– “Mr (Brian) Molefe (CEO of Eskom) is defending his position as far as this family (the Guptas) is concerned. The best person to answer your question is Mr Molefe himself (said in response to a question on why Eskom CEO Brian Molefe took so long to submit the details of its contract renewal with Tegeta to National Treasury).
– Why in this chamber and elsewhere are people obsessing about one family’s influence? Can’t we speak about jobs? Or about how to create more investment rather than discussing if you are pro-Gupta or anti-Gupta? (said in response to persistent questions about the Guptas and their alleged capture of state-owned enterprises).
– Government expects not the kind of way we have conducted ourselves at the airline to continue in the future (said in response to a question about the SAA board)
– All these sorts of compositions of boards and other structures that take place in government – different views are expressed and the list you see before you is the outcome of various discussions and compromises and settlements we reached so we can get on with the job at SAA (said in response to a question about why Treasury objected to SAA board chair Dudu Myeni’s reappointment).
– I appeal to all board members, including Ms Myeni, that SAA is an important state asset and over the next five years or so it must be able to stand on its own feet. National interest is far more than individual and sectorial interest (said in response to a statement that Myeni was an unruly chairperson).
– I do not see the SAA chair (Dudu Myeni) as an all powerful person who can do what he or she likes (said in response to a statement that Myeni was not fit for the position).
– If there is any bullying I am being submitted to regarding this (Myeni’s appointment), I will come back and tell you (said in response to the fact that he didn’t agree with Myeni’s reappointment).
– If you want an economy to grow you have to create a stable, predictable environment. We need to be able to say to investors: ‘You can come here, your money is safe’. But for local and FDI we need to project a national front and help build confidence (said in response to a question about how South Africa could stave off an investment downgrade).
Gordhan was part of the economic cluster ministers being grilled in Parliament. Other under fire on a wide range of issues were Mosebenzi Zwane, Ebrahim Patel, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Mildred Oliphant, Lynne Brown and Senzeni Zokwana.