Tito Mboweni declares war and warns of collateral damage

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: (Beeld/Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images)

‘We fear nothing! We die only with spears on our chests not our backs. Mayihlome! We face the fire not run away from it,’ says the finance minister.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Thursday declared war against South African editors who will use their position to join the “war” among politicians. The media has, in the past, been accused of being instrumental in destroying politicians’ lives and careers by publishing unsubstantiated allegations.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba recently attributed his political setbacks to “sinister forces” aimed at preventing him from becoming the next ANC leader.

In an interview with Isolezwe on Monday Gigaba said that, despite these forces, he had no plans to leave the ANC as he grew up in the party.

He said in IsiZulu: “I grew up in the ANC and I’m not just saying this like this other boy who once said he would never leave the party because he also grew up in it, only to leave it and start his own party. I won’t leave the ANC, I will be removed by people. Even then I won’t be anyone’s doormat. Whoever wants to touch me can do so, but I will fight back.”

In fact, the embattled minister has promised to fight back.

Earlier this week, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told the Zondo inquiry into state capture he believes that the push-back by the perpetrators of state capture was real, and he was personally feeling it in the form of an investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Gordhan was subpoenaed on October 1 by Mkhwebane to appear before her on a complaint linked to the approval of early retirement of former senior Sars executive Ivan Pillay.

“I believe that the fight-back is aimed at countering the work done this year by public servants and political office bearers to ‘recapture’ the state and deliver on its constitutional mandate,” he said, according to a leaked copy of his testimony before the commission of inquiry into the defining scandal of the Zuma years.

Read more: Fight-back by Zuma camp is real, Gordhan tells Zondo

The reporting on Gordhan’s case has been highly criticised on social media, with some saying allegations against the former finance minister were being handled with kid gloves, while others said the media was being used to taint his image.

Now Mboweni says he’s ready for the apparent war that is being brought to his doorstep, adding that the time to be gentle was over.

He said: “Wars start in different ways. Spears and shields, gunpowder, bullets, and now through media: printed and electronic (e.g trade wars by a superpower president ), and then social media!! Well, the SA editors must be editors!! If needs be, we will be forced into the fight, WAR!

“The line has been drawn on the sand! This far and no further. Ma ku lwiwe maqawe!”

He warned those who might underestimate him, saying he was, in fact, a product of “the warrior commanders of the mighty Zulu army” from KwaZulu-Natal.

“We fear nothing! We die only with spears [in] our ches, s not our backs. Mayihlome! We face the fire not run away from it.”

The problem, however, is that there will be collateral damage, he warned.

Mboweni warned South Africans late last year about “dirty tricks” that he alleged would be used ahead of the December conference.

He said at the time: “It’s going to be dirty! The stakes are high, be careful.”

“Good people’s names will be tarnished! Why? It’s dirty politics. Raw!! That was not what freedom was about. Be careful on social media!

“Be careful about what you post, privately, DM, SMS, or whatever. The battle lines are drawn. And the skeletananyana.”

EFF leader Julius Malema followed suit and warned then deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa against “dirty tricks” that would be used against him to prevent him from being ANC president.

Malema warned the Ramaphosa camp to be “strong” in the lead-up to the ANC conference in December.

“Ramaphosa, his wife, and supporters will have to be extremely strong especially as they move closer to the conference, dirty tricks on steroids,” he said.

Read more: Malema warns Ramaphosa and his wife about ‘dirty tricks’

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