Gordhan: Still many wolves in sheep’s clothing

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Cape Town – There are still many wolves in sheep’s clothing around and that is why civil society in South Africa must be vigilant about what is going on in the country currently, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan told Fin24 on Friday.

He responded to a question put to him by Fin24 at a networking event hosted by the SA Ubuntu Foundation. Gordhan was the guest speaker.

“There will always be a contest between different interest groups and South Africans must ensure that those with national interests at heart will prevail. It is like having the dawn break again for SA, but some clouds are lurking on the sidelines,” said Gordhan.

“SA is running out of ‘brown envelopes’ at the moment. In a culture of ‘I will pay you if you pay me’ one cannot just leave it to a minister or an official to handle. One must fight for the right things to be done in our society.”

He said to be honest about state capture, those in government did not quite detect that there was this plan to take over various institutions.

“We did not realise there was a plan to replace good people in institutions with bad people and to extract money from these institutions like Eskom, Transnet, Denel and Prasa. This has led to a loss of confidence in government,” said Gordhan.

“All of that has now suddenly changed in the course of 10 days. There is a new optimism in SA with new possibilities. So, now we must build the new SA with a new president who has very different and a dynamic view of possibilities for South Africans.”

Having a conscience

For Gordhan it is important that people have a conscience.

“Without a conscience you lose direction in life. Conscience enables us to remember that social justice is a very important part of any society. The few cannot for ever live in luxury if the many are in poverty. There are huge levels of inequality in SA,” he said.

“It is also very important to remove racism and create gender equality in SA. The country belongs to all who live in it. We need to build a genuine democracy.”

Gordhan pointed out that the SA economy in its current form does not provide jobs, opportunities or the inclusivity needed.

“Our economy does not ensure that the vast majority who work in the economy are beneficiaries of what the economy produces. Research shows that the top 10% of SA society benefitted the most, as well as the bottom 10%. Many, however, are not benefitting,” said Gordhan.

“So, there needs to be a more equitable sharing of the economy as it grows to ensure inclusivity above all.”

He emphasised that SA’s legacy of division and exclusion created a total imbalance in terms of assets and wealth. The vast majority of South Africans have no assets or wealth to speak of – nothing for their children to inherit and get out of poverty.

“If we work together we can create more opportunities for millions of people. We need to grow the middle class. Currently many of the new middle class members are living precariously on the edge and risk falling back out of the middle class,” said Gordhan.

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