South Africa

Pravin Gordhan to retire from politics

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that he will retire from active politics.

This was revealed in an exclusive interview with Business Day, where Gordhan revealed his retirement, saying he wants to prioritise his family and health.

His retirement from active politics means he will not be available as a candidate on the ANC’s electoral list.

Gordhan has had mixed results as a cabinet member. He served as Finance Minister 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 Minister of Public Enterprises since February 2018.

Renowned economist Dawie Roodt said Pravin Gordhan is the worst Finance Minister South Africa has ever had, and he is partly to blame for the mess at the country’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Roodt said Gordhan should be blamed for the poor state of South Africa’s fiscal accounts.

Although there were many reasons for South Africa’s rising fiscal deficit, Gordhan was the minister who put it all in motion.

Under his leadership, South Africa’s debt-to-GDP increased tremendously, undoing the good work of his predecessor, Trevor Manuel.

Manuel significantly reduced the country’s debt-to-GDP, which points to good and responsible fiscal policies.

However, after he handed the reins to Gordhan, matters quickly changed. He gave huge increases to civil servants and gave billions to SOEs.

“He was the one who set the collapse of the state-owned enterprises in motion. He is now the minister of state-owned enterprises and continues his destructive work,” Roodt said.

South Africa’s SOEs, including Eskom, Transnet, the South African Post Office, and the SABC, are in deep financial trouble.

The Post Office is in business rescue, the SABC records huge losses and requires bailouts to survive, and the state had to take over a chunk of Eskom’s debt to prevent big problems.

Transnet also requires support from the state to implement its turnaround plan to reverse the collapse over the last few years.

“He is a communist and an ideologue. He is a wrecking ball who causes tremendous destruction,” Roodt said.

Energy expert Mthunzi Luthuli said Gordhan should have been fired or stepped down long ago as all the parastatals under his watch are failing.

Luthuli told Newzroom Afrika that Gordhan “keeps giving excuses” for the poor performances of South Africa’s SOEs.

“Pravin Gordhan keeps giving excuses. He’s five years into the job. He keeps giving excuses about state capture. He blames geopolitical forces and all sorts of excuses,” he said.

“In my view, Pravin Gordhan should have been fired a long time ago, or he should have left on his own because he’s ineffective.”

Luthuli said it’s not just Eskom’s performance that has deteriorated but all the parastatals under Gordhan’s watch. “They’re failing – all of them.”

More recently, Gordhan came under severe fire for his unwillingness to publicly discuss the South African Airways (SAA) and Takatso deal.

The DA’s shadow minister of public enterprises, Mimmy Gondwe, objected to the secrecy Gordhan sought.

The opposition party opposed Gordhan’s request that parts of the SAA and Takatso deal be shielded from public scrutiny

“This is a significant blow to parliamentary transparency and accountability, further covering Pravin Gordhan’s nefarious attempts to keep a veil of secrecy over the SAA deal,” she said.


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