Pravin Gordhan: they tried to chase me out of office
After the turmoil of removing Nhlanhla Nene, ‘other means needed to be found ... to force me to resign’
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says bullying and harassment were used to try chase him out of office in 2016, just after he was re-appointed as finance minister by then president Jacob Zuma.
Gordhan was testifying at the state-capture inquiry on Tuesday about the time when 27 questions were sent to him by the Hawks on the eve of delivering the 2016 budget. These were questions were around the so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
Gordhan said harsh lessons were learnt from the turmoil that was created when Nhlanhla Nene was removed as finance minister, and the removal of the minister in that portfolio could not repeated so soon after. ‘‘So other means needed to be found ... to force me to resign.’’
He also said the 27 questions were a form of bullying and harrassment. ‘‘There is no other explanation, [other than] that for almost a year, a sitting president who appointed one to a position, a month later or so, then allows his appointees [the Hawks] to essentially start the process of harassment.’’
Gordhan said that during the period of February to November 2016, the narrative he heard was all about forcing him to resign. Firing him was not going to be palatable at the time so they tried to ‘‘chase’’ him out of office.
After receiving the questions, Gordhan said he was ‘‘extremely upset and concerned’’ and arranged to meet with Zuma.
During the meeting, Gordhan said he lodged his objection; Zuma ‘‘merely flipped through the pages of the letter’’ and then said he would discuss the matter with then police minister Nathi Nhleko.
Gordhan said he received no information from Zuma subsequent to this. He also alleged that the Hawks were captured under the leadership of Berning Ntlemeza, who was central to the state-capture problem.
Gordhan said the capture and repurposing of key institutions was a crucial element of state capture, which included capturing institutions where money could be accessed, as well as key investigative and prosecuting institutions.