Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan has described African National Congress (ANC) presidential hopeful and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as an “extremely brave” leader who speaks truth to power.
In his first television interview since he was fired from Cabinet by President Jacob Zuma almost a month ago, Gordhan was coy on whether he personally had confidence in the president’s leadership, saying he hoped when the ruling party concluded its national elective conference later this year, it would emerge with the courage and boldness it required to change direction.
“… From my own point of view, Mr. Ramaphosa has been extremely brave. He has spoken truth to power, if you like, at difficult times, and has demonstrated he’s a leader of great mettle and one that would serve South Africa well into the future, and that’s a good thing,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in the interview broadcast on Thursday evening.
Gordhan came out in support of a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of “state capture” by the controversial Gupta family and Zuma’s benefactors as recommended by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her State of Capture report.
He said such a commission headed by an independent judge would “clear the air” on allegations of state capture.
“[It] would help to clear the air [and to] understand the magnitude of what is going on. [To] unearth who is fundamentally benefiting from this kind of corruption that is actually taking place. And the law needs to take its course if profoundly wrong things are seen to be done,” Gordhan said.
Asked by Amanpour if he had any information implicating Zuma in corrupt activities, Gordhan said there were “all sorts of suggestions” against Zuma but also against people in the private and public sector that needed to be tested as well.
“… Let anybody and everybody who has facts related to any kind of corruption … put those facts before a senior judge in this country,” he said.
Even though Gordhan warned that the ANC would lose the 2019 general elections if it did not change its course, he said he remained optimistic that things might change.
“One still hopes that by the end of the year we’re going to be able to find the courage that is required and the boldness that is required to steer the ANC in a very different direction,” he said.
With the ANC facing its toughest year that many political analysts have described as a make or break year for the party ahead of the December conference, Gordhan said what made him sad about the state of the ANC was how corruption was allowed to fester into the organisation.
“The one thing that makes me sad is that we have allowed a situation to develop where a handful of individuals in South Africa appear to be able to dictate to some extent where this country goes in terms of its use of economic resources.
“We’ve allowed greed to become a factor in the way people behave, both in the private domain and in the public domain,” he said.
Watch the full interview on Amanpour below: