Former African National Congress treasurer-general Mathews Phosa has called on South Africans to be vigilant in the face of sustained attempts to loot the National Treasury. Phosa told The Citizen that people who want to loot the Treasury will not give up. “They are driven by greed,” he said, without mentioning names. “We must be vigilant.”
According to Phosa, President Jacob Zuma’s decision to appoint David van Rooyen as finance minister was a “brazen attempt to loot the National Treasury”.
“Thank God it failed,” Phosa said. “If Van Rooyen had been allowed to continue as finance minister,” said Phosa, “those who wanted to benefit their friends and family would have found an easy way to siphon money from the Treasury to small, medium and microenterprises, where they had tenders.”
He warned that corruption was going to destroy the ANC and the country. Zuma inexplicably sacked former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene last year.
He replaced him with the little-known Van Rooyen, triggering the rand’s biggest ever decline .
Under pressure from his own ANC party and business, Zuma made an about-turn after four days. He then replaced Van Rooyen with former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Phosa, a former Mpumalanga premier, said Nene’s sacking was very “unfortunate” and “not well thought out”.
“The implications were enormous for the country, one of them being a loss of confidence in us as a country,” Phosa said.
“Investor confidence is shattered. Any other view that it is not shattered, and we are fooling ourselves.
“We should not even try to fool our people. It is going to take a long time to recover from the removal of Nene.”
Commenting on the standoff between Gordhan and the SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane, Phosa said their dispute had added “salt to a bleeding wound”.
“Once you have some tension between Treasury and Sars, you undermine confidence in your government. And this is a very serious weakening,” he said.
“When Gordhan announced he received a letter from the Hawks, the rand immediately dropped by 20 cents. It shows when you take decisions on serious financial matters, you have got to calculate very carefully.”
Phosa called on the ANC to persuade Gordhan and Moyane to find an amicable solution.
“There is no need for these two comrades to have a fight,” Phosa said.
“We love both of them, and they have both contributed to the struggle. The nation will not benefit from their squabbles.”
According to Phosa, there was no need for Gordhan to step aside because there was no basis to charge him.
On the 783 dropped charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering against Zuma, which the Democratic Alliance has gone to court to have reinstated, Phosa said the law must take its course.