Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday said it was vital for those who were opposing government’s anti-corruption drive at state-owned enterprises to be exposed, shortly before tension between him and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) erupted as the party sought to disturb his speech.
The party’s MPs were physically removed from the room where he was due to speak.
Earlier, Gordhan told a media briefing ahead of his department’s budget vote that within two years, troubled state-owned enterprises could and should play an important role in reviving the economy but for this to happen, those obstructing the process had to be outed and stopped.
“If the fightback against the kind of changes that we are trying to make to stop the malfeasance, to get rid of the corruption, to clean up the procurement lines, to get the cost structures in each of these entities appropriately balanced, if we get that right, without the kind of interference that we are seeing at the moment, then we should be on a fairly good footing in the next 18 to 24 months,” he said.
“And that is why exposing the fightback, exposing the proponents of the fightback, is an extremely important thing for the public to understand and for us to do and we call on good South Africans to join us in making sure that important assets of the state become productive on the one hand, and become positive contributors to our economy on the other hand.”
The remarks come a day after Gordhan, in a court affidavit, accused Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane of, wittingly or unwittingly, helping the cause of those seeking to perpetuate state capture, the massive rent-seeking scandal that defined the administration of former president Jacob Zuma.
The minister has asked the court for an interdict to halt the implementation of remedial action Mkhwebane ordered against him, pending a full review of her finding that he flouted the law in the appointment of an intelligence unit within the South African Revenue Service.
Gordhan has maintained that the unit was not established illegally, and stressed in Thursday’s briefing that he has been vindicated by more than one inquiry.
In his court papers, he singled out the Economic Freedom Fighters as finding itself on the wrong side of the war for political renewal and unity. Asked on Thursday who he believed should be exposed, he again cited the extreme left party led by Julius Malema.
The strife between the EFF and Gordhan erupted two hours later when the party’s Sam Matiase interrupted the minister as he began delivering his budget vote address.
Matiase called Gordhan a “constitutional delinquent” and said he should not be allowed to speak.
As several other EFF MPs rose to support him, presiding officer Grace Boroto asked if they all took the same view and ordered them to leave the house.
“All honourable members please leave the house!”
She then called in security staff to remove them, resulting in shoving and pushing in room E249 where the debate was taking place.
Gordhan remained quiet throughout the incident but later said: “What you have witnessed is a defence of state capture.”
– African News Agency (ANA)