Ahead of his much-anticipated Budget Speech on Wednesday and renewed concerns over his possible removal from National Treasury, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says he is “not indispensable”.
In an interview with eNCA’s Justice Malala on Monday, the minister responded to year-long rumours that he and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas may be sacked by President Jacob Zuma by simply saying: “We are just humble civil servants.”
The announcement by Parliament last week that former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe would be sworn in as an MP on Wednesday has put the Cabinet reshuffle rumours on overdrive, with Gordhan facing increasing criticism from the African National Congress’ three major leagues to be fired by the president.
The ANC Youth League, Women’s League and Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) have been at the forefront of calls for the minister to be removed from his position. They claim that he is blocking the ruling party’s drive for “radical socioeconomic transformation”.
The management of state-owned enterprises such as SAA and Eskom, including the controversial nuclear build programme that has led to red flags from Treasury, are some of the thorny issue that have put the minister at loggerheads with Zuma.
On the other hand, Jonas’ allegations that the president’s close friends, the Guptas, had bribed him and offered him the finance minister post in December 2015, is said to be reason enough for Zuma to replace him with Molefe.
As Gordhan’s deputy, Molefe would be put firmly in charge of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). The PIC is a quasi-public investment entity with R1.8 trillion in assets.
In the same interview, Jonas said he is “ready for any eventuality” regarding his own role in the government.
“Treasury is an institution and ministers come and go …We hope that the capacity embedded within the institution will be sustained,” he said.