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By Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor

Pravin Gordhan hits back: ‘I will not be intimidated’

A small group of Wits students stand off with Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, during a lecture on the reforms of SOEs.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan hit back at a small group of Wits University students who disrupted a lecture he delivered on State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) reforms.

Gordhan lecture disrupted

The minister was invited to deliver a public lecture to mark the Wits University Centenary celebrations on Thursday night, but the event was disrupted by a handful of students, who hurled insults at Gordhan and accused him of ‘stealing Eskom.’

Students said Gordhan also needed to account for state capture because he was appointed finance minister during the Zuma era.

But, in 2017, Gordhan was suddenly fired from the post when former President Jacob Zuma ordered him to abandon an investor roadshow in Britain and fly home.

Zuma gave no reason for the recall and replaced him with then home affairs head Malusi Gigaba.
In the days following Gordhan’s sacking, the country’s markets and currency tumbled, marking a turning in the state capture era.


Gordhan has since been the target of racial attacks and political vitriol over his handling of the failing state-owned enterprises, with many accusing the minister of selling out to the private sector.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the unruly behaviour of a small clique who was hell-bent on disrupting the lecture.

The conduct by the disruptors posing as guests was appalling, to say the least,” said the department in a statement.

The Wits School of Governance is considered to be one of the country’s prestigious institutions that develop intellectuals, and conducts research is invaluable to the reforms being undertaken by the government.

“The clique was clearly briefed by political forces intent on creating disruption and instability in South Africa. Their aim was not to engage but to intimidate us,” said the department.

“In the Gupta period, under Bell Pottinger’s collaboration, Twitter bots were activated every time the Guptas were mentioned.

“Similarly, the dissemination of fake news and disinformation started immediately after this event. This is another blatant attempt to mislead the South African public.”

The department said Gordhan had waited for questions until the end; instead, he was the target of a ‘vitriolic, racist attack’.

“Let us emphasise this most clearly: The minister was not kicked out. The minister and DPE will not be intimidated nor threatened by their well-orchestrated performance.”

Gordhan hit back at students saying their disruption was orchestrated by people who wanted corruption to continue in South Africa.

NOW READ: Pravin Gordhan: Stop calling us thugs; we’re trying to fix Eskom

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Pravin Gordhan Wits University (Wits)