A meeting to brief the media by the country’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan after he met with Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, on Tuesday afternoon, accepted only two questions from journalists, one of which was rejected.
The embattled South African finance minister who is due to appear in court for fraud charges emanating from the time he was heading the South African Revenue Services, met with Mabuza and his 10 MECs at the government complex on Tuesday afternoon.
But after the meeting with the province’s executive council, both Gordhan and Mabuza only accepted only two questions.
“Eeeer, colleagues, thank you very much,” Mabuza, who was chairing the media briefing at the Riverside government complex in Mbombela said to journalists, “eer…we should allow…eer…,” he said.
He then looked at Gordhan, who said: “Two questions.”
Mabuza continued: “We should allow the minister to leave, but with his generosity, two questions will be brilliant”.
But only one of the two questions was accepted – that of Ziwaphi journalist Tom Nkosi – and that of The Citizen journalist Ngwako Modjadji was rejected by Mabuza and Gordhan.
“My name is Ngwako Modjadji, I’m from the Citizen newspaper. Pardon me Minister, my question is not related to what you’ve just said.”
“Then you mustn’t ask it, ” Gordhan said to Modjadji.
But before Modjadji could say anything, Gordhan said: “But go ahead, we are in a democracy”, to which Premier Mabuza interjected, “No! If the question is not related to our subject today, let’s not deviate. Let’s follow what is the business of the day”, rejecting the question outright.
This was seen by some journalists as the two leaders‘ attempts to avoid further negative publicity on President Jacob Zuma’s government and curb Gordhan from attacking the National Prosecuting Authority which is bringing the fraud charges against him.
Mabuza told Modjadji: “This is my house. Let’s follow what is the business of the day”.
Journalist Nkosi asked Gordhan which of the nine provinces were “candidates for section 100”, to be placed under national administration, to which Gordhan answered there “was no province in crisis”.
“No province is in a crisis that one or two were in in earlier years at this point in time. Really there’s no section 100 on the card. We rather sit like this and say to the Premier we think you have five things to attend to, so attend to them,” Gordhan said.
But later, Mabuza’s spokesman Zibonele Mncwango said that the reason Gordhan and Mabuza only accepted two questions was because the finance minister was rushing to catch a flight.
“The meeting between the Premier and the Minister [earlier before the press briefing] was basically the minister coming to the province to share with the premier and the executive council a view on the global and country’s economy that is very uncertain and that the situation is very volatile,” Mncwango said.
“The minister said the country’s economy was definitely not going into recession but it was not doing extremely well either.
“This requires both the national and provincial governments to work together to improve growth prospects by making it inclusive.
“Again, the minister shared with the provincial executive council what the rating agencies were looking at and commended Premier Mabuza for his ‘pro-active approach’ in undertaking as many savings for the Mpumalanga province and added that Mpumalanga was ‘well-run’ and had huge economic potential, although it still needed to give attention to certain issues such as the haulage of coal,” said Mncwango.
(edited by MLM)
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