Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
In our sights: EFF general secretary Godrich Gardee has accused Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of a reign of terror at state-owned enterprises, under the guise of cleaning up state capture. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE /Sowetan
In our sights: EFF general secretary Godrich Gardee has accused Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of a reign of terror at state-owned enterprises, under the guise of cleaning up state capture. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE /Sowetan

The EFF has Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in the cross hairs, targeting him in a letter to the boards of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for an alleged "reign of terror" at the institutions.

This is the latest accusation against Gordhan by the party, which has previously attacked him publicly and accused him of being the de facto president and doing as he pleases.

Now the EFF has stepped into the battle against Gordhan within state institutions, siding with his opponents in matters relating to the South African Revenue Service and Transnet. as well as at Transnet.

EFF chairman Dali Mpofu is representing suspended South African Revenue Service boss Tom Moyane in his disciplinary inquiry. The party’s letter on Gordhan indicates it is poised to defend Transnet CE Siyabonga Gama, whom it alleges Gordhan wants suspended.

The party seems to have taken on the role once championed by the ANC faction linked to former president Jacob Zuma. It started by attacking officials in the Treasury and also targeted Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, writing to him to ask for answers about evidence of wrongdoing it claims it has against the minister. And once again, the EFF has focused its attention on Gordhan. In the letter, EFF general secretary Godrich Gardee accused Gordhan of a "reign of terror" all "under the guise of cleaning up and fighting state capture".

Ramaphosa's key priority

The letter is addressed to "all board members of SOEs which fall under the administration of public enterprises" and "all chairpersons of SOEs", all nonexecutive board members and all executive board members.

A key priority for President Cyril Ramaphosa has been to clean up state-owned entities to ensure the country’s fiscal stability. The risk posed by government-owned companies continues to be closely monitored by ratings agencies.

Gordhan was appointed during Ramaphosa’s first cabinet reshuffle in February and was tasked with cleaning up SOEs.

He is embroiled in a court battle with former Transnet director Seth Radebe concerning the removal of the board by Gordhan because of the way it handled a damning report by Werksmans Attorneys on allegations of state capture and corruption in the procurement of 1,064 locomotives.

Gardee accuses Gordhan of making "unplanned physical visits" to the offices of state-owned entities, "verbal warnings of instant removal from the boards and other intimidation and bullying tactics".

Other claims against Gordhan are of "wild allegations against innocent board members", "racism and other forms of unfair discrimination", and "unlawful instructions regarding operational matters".

Gardee also alleges that Gordhan had "name-dropped about president Ramaphosa".

He said: "We are also aware that he intends to instruct for the suspension of Transnet’s chief executive, without due process and reason."

He called on whistle-blowers with evidence of Gordhan’s alleged reign of terror to report their experiences to the party’s parliamentary offices.

Gardee warns that if the allegations against the minister are proved to be true, the EFF would approach the courts to seek relief, including Gordhan’s possible removal from his post.

Gordhan and the Department of Public Enterprises declined to respond publicly to the letter, which was also copied to the Presidency. Presidency spokeswoman Khusela Diko noted the letter, which was circulated on social media, but said the Presidency had not formally received the communication.

Transnet board chairman Popo Molefe declined to comment, referring questions to the parastatal itself.

marriann@businesslive.co.za