Johannesburg– Former South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a person of Indian origin (PIO), has slammed allegations that he held a secret meeting abroad in an attempt to undermine the country and its economy.
“What sickens me is the allegation that I had secret meetings to undermine this country… let me say categorically, there was no such meeting. Why would we do that,” Gordhan asked.
In a surprise move on Thursday night, President Jacob Zuma ousted Gordhan and other top ministers, inviting economic uncertainty for the country and resulting in the rand slipping four per cent against the US dollar.
Gordhan and former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas addressed the media on Friday in the National Treasury building, just hours before they were set to be removed, South Africa’s News 24 reported. Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba replaced Gordhan.
During the press conference, Gordhan said the allegations in the report were upsetting.
He said both he and Jonas had joined the liberation struggle as youths to help bring South Africa to where it is today.
He urged South Africans to see a pattern of events, and not to view each incident in isolation.
Gordhan first served as finance minister between 2009 and 2014. Zuma appointed him for the same portfolio after sacking two other finance ministers within a month.
It was the period of turmoil that hammered South Africa’s markets and currency, but Gordhan helped stabilise the situation.
According to media reports, Gordhan and Zuma clashed over issues such as the management of state-owned enterprises and the need for a big new economic plans.
Gordhan maintained that the hard work done by Treasury officials should not be undone.
“Any undoing of confidence or decline of rating status of country will hurt ordinary South Africans. South Africans must not pay for nonsense that happens elsewhere,” News 24 quoted Gordhan as saying.
Analysts have warned that dismissing Gordhan and other key cabinet ministers could cause chaos, a CNNMoney report said.
Zuma’s deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, criticised the President’s decision to fire Gordhan.
South Africa’s main opposition party, Democratic Alliance, said it would try to remove the president via a vote in parliament.
“We therefore urge all political parties, including members of the ANC, to vote President Jacob Zuma out when (our) motion of no confidence is debated in the National Assembly,” said the party’s leader Mmusi Maimane.