South Africa's Pravin Gordhan Says He Is ‘Not Indispensable’

  • Gordan will present budget to lawmakers on Wednesday
  • ‘Ministers come and go,’ Deputy Finance Minister Jonas says

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said he is “not indispensable” as he prepares to present the annual budget following almost a year of speculation that he might lose his job.

“We are just humble civil servants,” Gordhan said in an interview with broadcaster eNCA on Monday after being asked about rumors that he and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas may be replaced by President Jacob Zuma. Gordhan will give his full-year budget speech on Wednesday in Cape Town.

Speculation that Gordhan may be fired has been renewed by an announcement that the ruling party will install Brian Molefe, the former chief executive officer of the state power utility, as a lawmaker this week, possibly ahead of his appointment to cabinet. Gordhan has been at loggerheads with Zuma over the running of state companies and the affordability of nuclear power since shortly after the president was pressured to reappoint him to the position in December 2015 after a backlash caused by a decision to name Des van Rooyen, a then little-known lawmaker, as finance minister.

Jonas has said the Gupta family, who are friends of Zuma and in business with the president’s son, offered him the top finance ministry post in exchange for business concessions. The family denies the allegation. Jonas said in the same interview on Monday he is “ready for any eventuality” regarding his own role in the government.

“Treasury is an institution and ministers come and go,” he said. “We hope that the capacity embedded within the institution will be sustained.”

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