Minister Gordhan’s firm stand despite drastic moves by government bodies to see him removed from office has left President Jacob Zuma and his allies frustrated.
Though the minister is scheduled to answer to fraud and theft charges laid against him, report says Minister Pravin Gordhan’s strategic position in the matter keeps Zuma’s strong supporters in a confused state.
However, Minister Gordhan’s fate still awaits the outcome of discussions at the ANC party’s top six meeting.
Gordhan was charged with fraud and theft which he would answer to next month. However, Zuma, like the African National Congress expressed confidence in the minister but encouraged him to go clear his name.
No fewer than four of the ANC’s top six leaders have in fact sympathized and supported minister Gordhan’s firm stand on the case, left for Zuma deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte who are both more concerned on how the party would maintain leadership positions in the country come 2019 general elections.
“When the announcement was made, everybody was worried that whatever is said will damage the minister and then he will be compelled to resign, or that the president will release him,” a member of the ANC NEC said on Friday after ANC’s NEC that speaks about how ANC will unite its constituencies to survive the coming election.
“That is why Pravin said he is willing to let the matter go to court, because he can see that the matter is not damaging to him. The nature of the charge is usually what forces people to step down or be fired, even [ANC treasurer-general] Zweli Mkhize said after the charges were lodged that Public Finance Management Act deviations were a common problem for accounting officers.
Meanwhile, News24 reported that another NEC member supporting Zuma said Minister Gordhan must “do the correct thing and step down”.
“He is summoned and there is a case against him, so why is he defended so much? The issue is that the anti-Zuma group wants to create a crisis that is not there,” he said, adding that Gordhan was “supposed to voluntarily say that, as a disciplined cadre of the ANC, he knows the rules and he will step aside until the case is finalised”.
“But, he is saying: ‘I’m going nowhere, so fire me Mr. President.’ You see, it is now personal and no longer organisational,” he said about minister Gordhan’s firm stand on the matter.
To buttress his point, the Zuma supporter gave example of ANC Western Cape chair Marius Fransman who was quickly removed by the party’s national working committee after criminal charges were laid against him.
“[ANC] was quick to remove him because he does not share the same view of 2017 with them”, referring to the ANC 2017 leadership succession race.
However, a prominent ANC branch leader in Gauteng has a different view of the whole matter. He said “the removal of Pravin and the takeover of Treasury by someone who will push the populist state of the ANC would leave capital weakened”.
“But the ANC cannot survive without being a bit populist. It is either going to borrow more or raise taxes. But it will need more money to fix certain things and, if the status remains the same, they are gone in 2019,” he added.