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'People fighting proxy wars': Mavuso Msimang on bid to oust Gordhan

16 January 2020 - 18:33 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
Public enteroprises minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Public enteroprises minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Image: Masi Losi

ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang is adamant that those calling for the removal of public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan are playing politics and their calls have nothing to do with the minister's performance at Eskom.

He described the moves against Gordhan as “a test of wills” in which President Cyril Ramaphosa cannot afford to blink.

“If the president blinks and removes Pravin Gordhan, he will have to give in on all other unreasonable demands that these people make. He must not allow this to happen because it is unreasonable but also because he is the real target,” he said.

Msimang is a member of a vocal group of ANC stalwarts and veterans and he spoke to TimesLIVE on Thursday, expanding on a press statement issued the day before by the group in which they charged that Ramaphosa was the real target of the calls to fire Gordhan.

“They want him to go for entirely different reasons. It is irrational to suggest that because Eskom promised the president that there would be no load-shedding, therefore the minister must resign,” said Msimang.

The same applied to the Eskom board, he added, saying the assurance given to Ramaphosa that there would be no load-shedding over the festive season was not a matter that would require the resignation of a board.

“There are serious political battles at play and the board is just a football that is being kicked around. It just does not make sense that you can say there has been an operational failure and therefore the board must go.

“I salute Jabu Mabuza for taking the fall, he was acting as CEO. It is very embarrassing perhaps for the organisation to give the president information that is inaccurate. I think that far and no further, it's good that he did that.”

Msimang said it was also unfair to say the Eskom board had failed when Eskom had been failing for the past eight years or longer.

While he accepted that people should take responsibility he did not believe a board of people who were part-timers, some of them specialists in their fields, could be labelled as  failures because the power utility couldn't live up to the assurance given to the president.

“People are fighting proxy wars — when somebody says Gordhan must retreat because the Eskom board has failed, it's simply ridiculous. Eskom is run by top management and the management is supervised by the board. Gordhan is in policy-making”, said Mavuso.

He admitted, however, to having heard some people say that Gordhan interfered at Eskom.

Without naming Gordhan, Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso told a parliamentary committee of an interfering shareholder who exerted intense political pressure on the board to keep the lights on irrespective of the cost.

In their statement, the ANC stalwarts and veterans said there was no unity to be had with those clamouring for Gordhan's head.

Msimang said it would be more likely to find common ground if the differences in the ANC were ideological “but here you are dealing with thieves”.

“You are dealing with people who have officially associated themselves with the Guptas, some of them have officially said the Guptas are our friends.

“We are saying you can't unite with corrupt people. That's what we are saying. They are heavily implicated in corruption.”

Msimang said the ANC ought to have suspended people implicated in corruption including those in leadership until their names were cleared.

Msimang also took a swipe at ANC members who spoke about the Nasrec resolution on the SA Reserve Bank and the lack of implementation as being selective in their demands.

“There is a resolution that was passed at Nasrec that said anybody who is under investigation, even before prosecutorial processes had been completed, should resign. Why are they not demanding that people who are tainted should resign?

“Why focus on this thing which is very disruptive,” he said, referring to calls to nationalise the SA Reserve Bank, saying there was nothing to be gained immediately by nationalising the bank.