"Our souls are not for sale."
That was former finance minister Pravin Gordhan's parting message to the country, as he addressed the media at a briefing at National Treasury's headquarters in Pretoria on Friday. Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas were fired during a Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday night.
Gordhan mentioned Jonas' admission last year, when he said he had been offered R600 000 in cash by the Guptas to become finance minister.
"And if you do commend him, you can clap," said Gordhan, to rapturous applause from media and officials in the room.
"Our souls are not for sale. They're not for sale," he said.
"We have our own brown bags but they're for carrying clothes and things like that. We don't need anybody's brown bags. And we hope more and more South Africans will make it clear that our country is not for sale."
Gordhan said Treasury had been subject to attacks, but that it did not decide things on its own, and ultimately decisions were taken by Cabinet.
"Those narratives about somebody being too big for his boots and so on (are false). None of us takes any glory for ourselves, unlike some people."
Gordhan and Jonas were asked to comment on allegations that decisions were not being taken inside government, especially in light of comments by ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, that he was unhappy with the Cabinet reshuffle.
They both urged the public to mobilise against anti-democratic tendencies in the state.
"What should the public do? Mobilise! Mobilise!" said Gordhan.
"Fragmented voices don't have the weight of organised ones."
Earlier, Gordhan held up a copy of the "intelligence report" that supposedly formed the basis of his dismissal. It was reported this week that President Jacob Zuma intended on using a so-called intelligence report as a precursor to removing the minister and his deputy. The report said Gordhan had held secret meetings abroad to undermine the government.
"This is absolute nonsense," he said. "This is not the thing you use to remove the minister of finance and the deputy minister."
Gordhan said that the investor roadshow undertaken by himself and his deputy was routine and happened every year.
"When the plane landed at Heathrow at 6 am on Monday morning, I put my phone on and saw a message saying 'come back, immediately'. In order to ensure no wasteful expenditure we carried on with the programme for Monday. First with Moodies and then Fitch, Standard & Poor would take on Tuesday. We then arranged to have a teleconference with them...
"There's an allegation circulating that sickens me. The allegation is that I had secret meetings to undermine this government. Some of us have from a very young age been active in the struggle. Why would we want to undermine this government?
"There was no such meeting. If anyone wants to tell us not to do this job, just tell us not to do this job. Nothing needs to be manufactured," said Gordhan.
Gordhan said he had contact his replacement. Malusi Gigaba, to congratulate him.
"We informed him that he might find us in this space, we have a few boxes to pack. Whatever has happened does not mean we will not be professional."