Stand up, resist state capture, says Gordhan

27 July 2017 - 06:38 By Ranjeni Munusamy
Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan has challenged South Africans to stand up and resist state capture.

"If we keep quiet, we are going to slump into a 10-year disaster. It will take five to 10 years to recover," Gordhan said.

"This South Africa is our country - nobody must be allowed to steal it from us."

Gordhan was speaking at a seminar on state capture, "white monopoly capital" and radical economic transformation alongside his former deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, at the University of Johannesburg yesterday.

Gordhan and Jonas, who were fired by President Jacob Zuma in March, faced a somewhat hostile audience and were intermittently heckled by students in EFF and ANC regalia.

Gordhan said state capture had caused a "serious decline in our morality" and an erosion of the quality of politics.

"We are beginning to blur the lines between what is right and what is wrong," he said.

"How many of you will accept R600-million as a bribe from the Guptas? Here is a person who was offered it but said 'Keep it'," he said, referring to Jonas's claim that the Guptas offered him the money and the Ministry of Finance.

Jonas was not prepared to sell the sovereignty of the country, Gordhan said.

But there are now "too many fence-sitters in all our organisations" who are waiting to see how the political situation evolves.

"Now is the time to make a decision on where you stand," said Gordhan.

Jonas said South Africa was facing its defining moment, both politically and economically.

"Our country is in a crisis of leadership . You can't have leaders who spend 80% of their time defending their problems," he said.

State-owned enterprises had become centres for racketeering, Jonas said, pointing to Eskom and Transnet contracts.

"What we lose through state capture and corruption is what is forfeited by education, health and other development objectives."

Economist Lumkile Mondi, also speaking at the debate, said the Zuma presidency had repurposed the state for private accumulation.

He said Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba had played a role in facilitating this by granting citizenship to the Guptas and appointing people to key positions in state-owned enterprises to further state capture.

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