The South African Communist Party (SACP) has rubbished President Jacob Zuma’s claims that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas were using an international investment roadshow to push for regime change.
“How can you believe such a trip is a trip against the country? We should not be treated like children. Those politically conscious won’t believe this thing,” SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila told reporters in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The African National Congress (ANC) alliance partner confirmed Zuma told them on Wednesday that he planned to fire Gordhan and Jonas based on an “intelligence report”. It contains claims that Gordhan and Mcebisi were going to use the trip to the UK and US to push for a change in government.
Gordhan was summarily recalled from the UK leg of the trip on Monday. Zuma gave no official reasons.
“It is pathetic,” Mapaila said.
“It’s a shoddy intelligence report, building suspicion. For God's sake, who can believe that a man who participated in the highest form of service in the movement, the armed struggle, a man who was part of operation Vula, which was a sensitive project with life and death implications, that (that) man can sell this country?" Mapaila asked.
According to the report, Gordhan, Jonas and Treasury DG Lungisa Fuzile had set up “secret meetings" to start “operation Check Mate” and to tell investors they stood together against Zuma and the corruption of the Guptas.
The party said it was gravely concerned by state security organs meddling in the country’s politics and targeting those who wanted to run a clean government.
Mapaila would not disclose who penned the report.
“We don’t want our government to degenerate into a gangster state.”
Mapaila said there was no reason for Zuma to fire Gordhan as he was leading one of the best-run departments.
He said the SACP had told Zuma they rejected his plan to dismiss Gordhan and Jonas and the people he intended to replace them with. Mapaila said they could only speculate who these replacements were.
The SACP would reject new ANC MP Brian Molefe, should he replace Gordhan. He had a cloud hanging over him after former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found he had contact with the Gupta family during his tenure as Eskom CEO.
“He must never be brought to an executive position. All of these are disregarded. How seriously do we take our people if we allow such things to happen?” Mapaila asked.
Mapaila said Zuma and Gordhan did not have to be friends to work together. Relations between the two had reportedly broken down.
He said the party had yet to decide if their members in Cabinet would resign en masse if Zuma fired Gordhan.