President Jacob Zuma and Brian Molefe. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS
President Jacob Zuma and Brian Molefe. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS

President Jacob Zuma proposed former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe as a potential finance minister to replace Pravin Gordhan‚ ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has said.

Duarte said that at about the time of Gordhan’s axing Zuma had put Molefe’s name forward to his ANC colleagues in the top six of the party.

"Obviously he brought the name of Brian Molefe into the discussion and we disagreed. We said no‚ we don’t think that would be a useful change … of course there were very strong words used‚" Duarte said in an interview with the SABC on Tuesday night.

"He did say: here’s a young man who’s put Eskom straight‚ why can’t he assist us elsewhere?"

Gordhan was fired as finance minister in March during a controversial Cabinet reshuffle that rattled investors. After his departure from Eskom‚ Molefe was appointed as an ANC MP‚ fuelling speculation that he was one step closer to replacing Gordhan. Molefe was seen as a Zuma ally‚ who was meant to advance the business interests of the president’s friends.

Duarte disputed reports that Zuma had not consulted fellow ANC leaders about the March reshuffle‚ which was followed by another Cabinet shakeup in October.

"I think when that particular situation (reshuffle) did happen‚ the question that was asked was: Did the president consult you? And I said‚ yes‚ he did‚" Duarte said.

"In fact‚ for nine months before Pravin Gordhan was asked to resign by the president‚ he told us‚ all of us‚ that he was going to ask him to resign.

"What I object to is the fact that my colleagues forgot about that‚ forgot that we’d been told almost repeatedly."

When the interviewer pointed out that Gordhan himself had apparently not been informed of his impending removal from his position‚ Duarte replied: "I can’t take responsibility for that. What I take responsibility for is what I heard: that Pravin Gordhan had taken to instructing the president in Cabinet‚ had taken to being arrogant with other ministers in the Cabinet.

"That is what we were told by the president‚ that he was no longer able to communicate with him and that it had reached a point of no return."

At the time of the March reshuffle‚ Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe came out publicly and said that Zuma had not properly sought their counsel before he implemented the changes. They said the president had cited a dubious intelligence report as his reason for getting rid of Gordhan.

Duarte said: "I think at some point in our lives all these truths will be told … the fact of the matter is that the top six doesn’t always agree with everything the president says."

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