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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


‘He won’t be missed’ – Analyst on news of Pravin Gordhan retiring

Professor Andre Duvenhage said Gordhan lost the internal political battle with Mantashe.


With South Africa’s national and provincial elections just around the corner, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has reportedly announced that he is retiring from politics.

Gordhan made the announcement in an interview with Business Day, which reported that the election on the 29 May is expected to mark the end of the 74-year-old’s political career.

The newspaper reported that Gordhan has expressed his desire to prioritise his family and his health.

ANC party list

Gordhan has occupied strategic positions in government since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994.

Gordhan said he will not be on the African National Congress’ (ANC) party list of electoral candidates.

“I feel it is time to focus on my family and health. It is an end of 50 years of activism, but I will always remain an activist. It has been a great privilege to serve in various capacities and, hopefully, I can contribute by teaching what I know to new and younger generations,” he said.

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Political analyst Ebrahim Fakir told The Citizen that Gordhan was going to leave politics eventually.

“He did a good job at Sars and, hopefully, he can be in an advisory role, but the SAA problem has been a sticky issue.”

Conflict in ministries

Professor Andre Duvenhage from the North West University (NWU) told The Citizen rumours about Gordhan leaving politics surfaced about a year or more ago.

“It was absolutely clear that there is huge conflict between the different ministries,” Duvenhage said, adding that this includes Minister of Energy Gwede Mantashe.

“We have the ministry involving all the SOEs that Pravin Gordhan leads and then we have the Minister of Electricity [led by Kgosientsho] Ramokgopa and we have a committee.

“So there are too many institutions and I heard rumours that they want to dissolve the whole department of Pravin Gordhan. But I think in essence, it has to do with the conflict or the perceived conflict between Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan,”

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Mantashe vs Gordhan

Duvenhage said Gordhan was probably the minister with a strong stance, probably more aligned to the perspectives of the former Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter, while Mantashe was on “the other side”.

“I think due to political realities, Cyril Ramaphosa had to make a choice and clearly he will go for the chairperson of the ANC. He needs support in the coming election, things are not always looking that good for the ANC.

“On the other side, Pravin had a very, very long career. He was in influential positions since the 90s and he has really come to an end and I can understand that also, but I think the main consideration was an internal political one,” Duvenhage said.

Gordhan won’t be missed

Duvenhage added he does not believe that Gordhan will be missed.

“The question, are we going to miss Pravin Gordan? I don’t think [so] because of two reasons. One, the problems within the ANC that need to be dealt with are bigger than what Pravin Gordhan can manage.

“Secondly, I think he had his day and he had the opportunity to deal with these issues and he didn’t have huge successes. I think when he was at Sars, he was relatively successful. But when he entered more formal politics as Minister of Finance at this point, Minister of Public Enterprises, I think the pattern was not that healthy,” Duvenhage said.

Lost the battle against Mantashe

Duvenhage added Gordhan lost the battle with Mantashe and suggested there was political sabotage involved.

“His latest portfolio, public enterprises, was in effect a disaster because everything went down. And with that track record, you cannot expect to survive. But I think there was also a lot of political sabotage involved and I think one of the ministers that is escaping misconduct [allegations] and that was also found guilty within the context of the Zondo commission was Gwede Mantashe.

“I think Pravin Gordhan lost the battle against Gwede Mantashe,” Duvenhage said.

Gordhan served as minister of finance from 2009 until 2014 and again from 2015 until 2017.

He also served as minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs from 2014 until 2015, and as minister of public enterprises since February 2018 to present.

ALSO READ: ‘I did not interfere at Eskom’ − Pravin Gordhan