Pravin Gordhan EFF

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo: Kopano Tlape/ GCIS

Insiders: Ramaphosa will back Gordhan amid ‘false’ NEC meeting rumours

Sources close to President Cyril Ramaphosa said Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was hardly mentioned at the ANC NEC meeting and that his political position is as strong as ever.

Pravin Gordhan EFF

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo: Kopano Tlape/ GCIS

Ramaphosa is almost certain to stand by his man Pravin Gordhan and the noisy campaign to have him fired is doomed to fail, several sources close to the president have told TheSouthAfrican.

A counter-narrative to the initial news reports circulating since the weekend’s ANC National Executve Committee (NEC) meeting alleging that Gordhan was severely criticised during the gathering and that there was even a strong feeling that he should be relieved of his current ministerial duties, was a lie. 

Several Ramaphosa supporters on the NEC, who had been present for the whole meeting, have started speaking to journalists to tell them that Gordhan was hardly mentioned, that his political position is as strong as ever, and that Ramaphosa would not drop him – not from Cabinet and not in any other way.

Media reporting ‘lies’

There is also some rather snide criticism in the presidency and from Ramaphosa supporters on the NEC that the media could report what they claim are lies so unquestioningly – that the media could get it so wrong.

 It has since been pointed out to them that any misinformation which might have spread, is entirely the ANC’s fault, because they lack the ability to report back on their closed meeting on the same day, and even for two days after that. 

To top it off, the eventual message is then delivered by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, whom some would believe as an honest broker, and some will not — meaning there is a credibility gap in their messaging.  

Substantial Cabinet reshuffle on the cards

Interesting feedback regarding the Cabinet portfolios held by Gordhan and all other ministers is that it is expected to change soon anyway, because a Cabinet reshuffle is imminent. The recent death of deputy minister of mineral resources and energy Bavelile Hlongwa means a vacancy must be filled. 

The feedback is that a more substantial reshuffle is on the cards. This is expected to impact both the content and grouping of portfolios on the one hand, and which ministers will hold which portfolios, on the other.

One of the ministers who may well gain and lose responsibilities in his portfolio is understood to be Gordhan, but if that were to happen, well-placed sources claim it should not be seen as criticism of Gordhan’s performance, but rather as changed needs. 

Gordhan under sustained attack

Gordhan has been under sustained attack from, respectively and divergently,  trade union federation Cosatu, the EFF and some in the Zuma/Magashule/state capture camp in the ANC, all of who want to see the minister fired for a variety of stated – and most certainly unstated – reasons. 

The main stated reason from all three critics mentioned is that the country’s state-owned entities are failing, are woefully managed and stunt economic growth. This – the logic goes – means Gordhan is failing and must be replaced. 


The counter-argument raises two questions: Is any of the challenges Gordhan’s fault, and could anyone have done a better job?

The unstated reasons for Cosatu, the EFF and the Zuma grouping in the ANC wanting Gordhan to be axed are widely held to include the fact that Gordhan does not shy away from the fact that the wage bill (and therefore employment opportunities) will have to be cut to make state-owned entities economically viable (leaving Cosatu peeved); his role (while at SARS and then at Treasury) in prosecuting the illegal tobacco smugglers which the EFF get so much of their funding from, not to mention certain tax-dodging EFF leadership types, and his pivotal role in fighting corruption and state capture (a sore point for the Zuma crowd).

The ANC is expected to provide their official feedback on what transpired at the NEC meeting at a press conference on Wednesday 22 January, and to take questions on the issue.