Exiting finance minister Pravin Gordhan has called out the Gupta family for using underhanded tactics – like hiring PR firms and generating fake news – to discredit him, Mcebisi Jonas and the National Treasury.
Without mentioning the family by name, at a press conference held on Friday, Gordhan took aim at ANN7 – a media house owned by the Gupta family – singling out the news group for ‘aways having something interesting to say’ about him.
He asked if the journalist from ANN7 had any questions for him – but the journalist declined, leading to loud applause and booing from other journalists and Treasury staff present.
A comment was made on the sidelines that the response was unfair.
Gordhan agreed, saying that there shouldn’t be any booing, but he did not let the ANN7 journalist and the Gutpas off the hook, asking how they (the journalists) would feel if they had to face abuse on a daily basis.
“Why must we constantly deal with people (the Guptas) who are never seen in the public domain – never – but they mastermind all these attacks, make false accusations, pay somebody called Bell Pottinger – you know them?”
Gordhan was referring to PR firm Bell Pottinger, who was hired by the Guptas to handle the media fallout after it was revealed that the family had allegedly approached several ministers in a bid to ‘buy’ them.
The firm has been accused of setting up several anti-Gordhan and anti-Treasury campaigns, including many fake social media accounts designed to echo the narrative of ‘white monopoly capital’ and that Gordhan had been captured by it.
“PR firms are hired, millions of rands are spent – to do what? To malign democratic institutions of South Africa. Why don’t they come out, face to face? Let’s have a debate, face to face,” Gordhan said.
Gordhan said that he would have a formal handover with his successor, Malusi Gigaba next week to smooth out the transition process, and assured that his relationship with president Jacob Zuma was fine.
He called on South Africans to continue holding government to account, and encouraged citizens to get active in the way forward for the country.