Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS
Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS

The state could have doubled social grants with the estimated R100bn said to be lost to state capture‚ ANC MP and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan says.

Speaking at the Daily Maverick The Gathering event‚ Gordhan said estimates varied, but the figure was close to R100bn.

Asked what he could have done with this money as finance minister he said the amount represented about 9% of total government expenditure and could have doubled social grants.

"Social grants are about R110bn to R120bn of expenditure‚ we could have doubled them‚" he said.

Gordhan said he had been surprised by the scale and the impunity with which state capture happened.

His former deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, said the fact that they were in government and did not know the extent of the problem showed those in government "are not holding the power".

"Those that run the country are unelected‚" and do not care about the economy and concerned themselves with "personal accumulation instead"‚ he said.

Both were critical of the ANC and of government.

Gordhan said: "You can’t have an environment where everything you do diminishes confidence."

But he said while some would see this as "talking ill of the ANC outside its rank"‚ he said it was about being "self-critical".

Jonas, meanwhile, said he had been surprised to hear ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu speaking about regulating the media when "we should deal with the credibility of the state and of the ruling party and leadership first".

Jonas said going forward‚ there needed to be a concerted effort to protect state institutions as they were all vulnerable.

"State capture has no holy cows‚" he said. "The criminal justice system is completely paralysed in dealing with state capture. The judiciary remains strong but for how long?"

He said it was possible that the Electoral Commission of SA and the Public Investment Corporation, which manages state pensions, could also be vulnerable‚ as the focus of state capture was accumulating wealth and power.

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