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Gordhan: Claims I tried to discredit govt abroad are sickening

Pravin Gordhan and his deputy held a briefing in the capital just hours after they learnt of their dismissals.

FILE: Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Outgoing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has dismissed claims that he was trying to discredit government abroad “as sickening”, he’s labelled the intelligence report the President Jacob Zuma used to axe him as “absolute nonsense” and he says his conscious will guide him in a possible motion of no confidence against Zuma.

“But this is a so-called intelligence report, which said, among others, that the two of us and director general Fuzile Lungisa are involved in a massive conspiracy to undermine this country. If you read it, it’s absolute nonsense. This is not the basis on which you fire or ‘release from their responsibilities’.”

Gordhan and his deputy held a briefing in the capital just hours after they learnt of their dismissals.

When asked why he thought he was fired with such urgency, Gordhan declined to answer the question directly, saying that the public should rather look at the bigger picture and as he termed it 'connect the dots'.

He questioned why Denel was going to court against the Treasury and why it was so intent on doing business with VR Laser, which is a Gupta-linked company.

Mcebisi Jonas referred to the Public Protector’s State of Capture report.

He said the report painted a picture of institutions that were increasingly becoming vulnerable and centres for attacks and looting.

Jonas said history was unfolding before South Africans’ eyes and it showed a democracy and an economy being undermined to serve a particular narrow interest.

Gordhan was also asked about how South Africans should react to the reshuffle.

He responded that South Africa had a very rich history of mass mobilisation which had served the country well in the past.

He said millions of people had been involved through various structures, such as trade unions, women's, youth or civic organisations.

Gordhan said South Africa should organise because fragmented voices did not have the weight that was required to make change happen.

He greeted protesters outside the Treasury in Church Square in Pretoria earlier on Friday, just 12 hours after his unceremonious axing, where he thanked them for their solidarity and urged them to communicate a greater consciousness of the importance of institutions.

He and fired Jonas arrived at the Treasury offices earlier to say goodbye to staff ahead of a live press conference attended by more than 200 Treasury staff, including senior members such as Fuzile and the deputy directors-general, as well as Gordhan’s wife Vanita.

President Zuma announced changes to his Cabinet after midnight axing five ministers, two deputies and announcing 10 new ministers and another 10 new deputy ministers.

In a late-night move on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma released a statement saying that he had decided to make changes to the National Executive in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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