Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has vowed to fight the fraud charges laid against him and use the same spirit to convince credit rating agencies in the coming weeks that, while South Africa’s democracy is “noisy”, the country should keep its current investment-grade rating.
“The charges have brought into question the legitimacy of some of the announcements that the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] leadership has made over the past few days.
“You will hear more about that in the coming weeks because, as activists, we don’t sit quietly when injustice has been done,” he said at the Thomson Reuters Africa Conference in Cape Town this week.
“That same fighting spirit is going to be utilised to ensure we convince rating agencies in the coming weeks and months that this is a noisy democracy, but one with a wonderful future,” he told the delegates.
When asked by Axel Threlfall, Thomson Reuters editor-at-large, whether the fraud charges had added to his stress levels, he responded that his “spine is still very straight”, which prompted thunderous applause from the delegates.
“I have been very fortunate … certainly, my generation [has been]. We’re not just politicians, we are activists of the congress of movement – a movement of Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, among others.
“To do the right thing, to stand by the right thing and fight the wrong thing, inspires tens of thousands of South Africans,” he said.
Turning back to the rating agencies, Gordhan said: “Rating agencies play an important role … We want to produce something as a package that will be credible both in the point of view of concept and ideas, but, more importantly, the point of view of plans, milestones and delivery.”
He said ratings agencies could see that there was a very different mood in the country at the moment – a mood that was intolerant of corruption; a mood that was intolerant of any illegitimate activity in relation to state institutions; a mood that was saying those institutions handled by individuals who are doing the right thing must be allowed to do the right things.
“Even in the moral sense, these are the right things we want for our country, our society and the future,” he said.
“I have been saying for many years: those who have foresight, those who have long-term view, those who have confidence in the ability of African leaders and institutions would invest in South Africa.
“They understand that, in the medium term, Africa is the future from any point of view you want to understand or take into account for purposes of investment,” he said.