The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has levelled serious accusations against Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Public Enterprises, alleging that he is presiding over what they have termed “State Capture 2.0.” This phrase has gained prominence in recent years to describe the alleged corruption and unwarranted control exerted by influential figures over state institutions.

By Staff Writer

The recent developments involving Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Public Enterprises, have prompted concern among South Africans. Gordhan is under scrutiny for his alleged involvement in what the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa)  has referred to as “State Capture 2.0.”

This accusation stems from Gordhan’s refusal to disclose crucial information about the South African Airways (SAA) transaction with the Takatso Consortium.

The controversy surrounding Gordhan’s actions has sparked a heated debate, with many questioning the government’s transparency and accountability. Critics argue that by withholding information about the SAA deal, Gordhan is perpetuating a culture of secrecy and potentially enabling corruption.

The SAA transaction, which involves the partnership between the struggling national airline and the Takatso Consortium, has been a matter of significant interest and concern for South Africans. However, Gordhan’s refusal to reveal specific details about the agreement has only heightened suspicions and raised concerns.

Last week, Gordhan refused to hand over two crucial documents to the public enterprises portfolio committee investigating the deal.

The committee launched a probe into the deal following allegations of irregularities made by the Public Enterprises’ former director-general, Kgathatso Thlakudi. Thlakudi was dismissed after a disciplinary inquiry determined that he had engaged in misconduct.

Thlakudi argued that Takatso was not originally considered for the shortlist and claimed that Gord­han manipulated its selection as the preferred strategic equity partner for SAA to benefit specific privileged individuals. Furthermore, he asserted that there was insufficient evidence of Takatso’s financial and technical capacity to carry out the transaction.

NUMSA strongly criticised Gordhan’s response and his persistent refusal to disclose important information about the sale of SAA, stating that they had observed his arrogant attitude.

“The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has noted the arrogant response given by the minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, and his obstinate refusal to hand over crucial information, on the sale of SAA, to Members of Parliament.

“The Public Enterprises Parliamentary Portfolio Committee has unanimously agreed that it cannot provide unqualified support for the transaction for SAA to be sold to the Takatso Consortium. 

“Furthermore, NUMSA has noted that the committee has decided to subpoena minister Gordhan for his refusal to cooperate with the committee in its investigation into the deal involving the Takatso consortium,” read the statement Issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary.

Gordhan’s decision to withhold the two important documents from the committee has led NMSA to accuse him of overseeing a new form of state capture, dubbed “State Capture 2.0,” through the sale of SAA.

“Gordhan’s refusal to provide the committee with two crucial documents has meant that it is unable to finalise its investigation into allegations of irregularities. The documents which are outstanding are the shortlisted entities after the final determination was made, and the sale and purchase agreement.

“NUMSA is vindicated because Gordhan has proven that we were right about him all along. Gordhan is presiding over State Capture 2.0 through the sale of SAA. The airline was sold for R51 in a process that remains shrouded in secrecy, even though, this is a state-owned entity, which means that as the public, we have every right to demand and receive detailed information on this deal.”

In May Jim raised the union’s objection to the approval of the SAA-Takatso deal.

“We have been saying that the SAA deal Gordhan engineered stinks of corruption and we are disappointed that the Competition Commission decided to legitimise a process which was illegitimate to begin with.

“We are raising the alarm once again on this dodgy deal because there is no accountability from the Department of Public Enterprises, and parliament is failing to protect this national asset,” he stated.

He claimed that Gordhan had free rein to do whatever he wanted, even if it meant offloading SAA to his friends and ex-high-ranking party members.

“Minister Gordhan engineered the sale of the airline to friends and former senior leaders of the governing party. Jabu Moleketi is the former Deputy Minister of Finance and also, the former MEC of Finance in Gauteng. He also served in the ANC NEC, and he just happens to be the director of Harith General Partners, which owns a majority shareholding in the Takatso consortium. NUMSA has been consistent about characterizing this deal as corrupt, and we have been proven right,” charged Jim.

NUMSA has reiterated its call for the removal of Pravin Gordhan, citing his refusal to cooperate with any established institution seeking to hold him accountable.

“NUMSA repeats the demand for Pravin Gordhan to be removed because he continues to show the middle finger to any recognized institution that attempts to hold him to account. There are numerous reasons why Gordhan must be fired.

“In his tenure as minister of SOEs, he has collapsed every single one of them. His disastrous track record, coupled with the dodgy SAA deal means that his dismissal is way overdue. But it seems the governing party is too cowardly to act against a minister as grossly incompetent as Gordhan, and one wonders why?  He does as he pleases and there are no consequences.

“The crisis at Transnet is caused by Gordhan. He has a terrible reputation for interfering with boards and for taking operational decisions. He has no respect for the principles of good governance. NUMSA has been saying for years that our weakest link as a country, is Pravin Gordhan. His failure as minister is costing us dearly. Our economic growth is stagnating, because he has a rare talent for killing everything that he lays his hands on.

“Need we remind the public that we have put our faith in the hands of a pharmacist who has consistently shown that he has zero business acumen? As long as he continues to run the DPE we can expect even more rampant mismanagement and more failures. We can continue to expect our SOEs to collapse, and this is why urgent action must be taken to remove him.”

The union also criticised the media for being lenient towards Gordhan’s actions. They argue that the impact of Gordhan’s decisions on job losses is more severe than what former President Jacob Zuma was accused of. The union questions why there is not the same level of outcry and demand for Gordhan’s dismissal from the media, as there was for Zuma.

Jim pointed out that the media was vocal in demanding Zuma’s removal but has been noticeably silent on the issue of Gordhan.

“The media chose to make its position clear on Zuma and they were very noisy about demanding Zuma’s removal, but they are silent on Gordhan, why?  It is worse because his failures have resulted in thousands of jobs lost through his mismanagement of Eskom.

“He has made disastrous choices to hand over the country’s energy provision to the private sector, through costly Renewable energy Independent Power Producers, which have shown that they are unreliable and are incapable of providing us with uninterrupted baseload energy.

“Gordhan implemented a failed Just Energy Transition at Komati power station, which has caused immense suffering to the working class, because of the premature closure of the power station. The jobs which were promised never materialised, and because of him, we shut down a power station, at a time when we are experiencing shocking levels of loadshedding. This has caused many factories and SMMEs to shut down prematurely, thus adding to job losses.

“If you add the mismanagement of SA Express, SAA, and Denel, we are talking about a mega mismanagement of strategic entities which play a direct role in our economic development.

“We have to ask, do media houses only act with courage when dealing with Zuma? It seems when it comes to the current administration under Ramaphosa, they are not as passionate in their demand for accountability. Karl Marx reminds us that media houses can never be neutral.

“They always side with the agenda of the ruling classes and when it comes to Gordhan and the Ramaphosa presidency, some of them are as meek as lambs.  Mass media forms the arena in which various ideological battles are fought, but the class that controls capital is always dominant.”

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