23/05/2017 05:57 SAST

'The Others' Want Radical Transformation To Benefit The Elite, Says Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan said South Africa needed to tackle problems of inequality, exclusion and accountability

Rogan Ward / Reuters
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan reacts during a South Africa Communist Party rally in Durban, South Africa, April 22, 2017.

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan believes radical economic transformation may only benefit a small elite.

Speaking at the University of Johannesburg's Convocation Leadership Seminar on Monday, Gordhan said some people articulated the concept of radical economic transformation differently than others.

He said some, like himself, argue that the transformation of the economy must benefit all South Africans. "Others", however, would mislead the public.

"The others would actually articulate it [radical economic transformation] in a way in which it is designed to mislead people in that if we do these extremely, so-called radical things, they would benefit. But ultimately, it would be a small elite that actually benefits," Gordhan said.

He did not say who the "others" were.

Speaking on ways to reform the country's economy, Gordhan said South Africa needed to tackle problems of inequality, exclusion and accountability. He emphasised that these three problems intensify when there is a lack of transparency and discipline.

"Our economy needs to be more diverse, dynamic and innovative and needs to find new areas in which we can compete with the word, while at the same time, it needs to be restructured in order to be more inclusive of all sections of our people," Gordhan said.

Another hot topic was state capture.

On its current trajectory, Gordhan said South Africa was heading towards kleptocracy.

However, he believes if we build an inclusive economy, establish a moral authority and evoke harsher punishment to corrupt individuals, then we can dodge the bullet.

"We are going to move dangerously close to becoming a kleptocratic state and that is not where we want to go. That is not the legacy Mandela and others have left for us," Gordhan said.

Coining the term 'extractive state capture', he said South Africa's resources are being used for the benefit of a few.

"What we are having is the capture of key institutions in the state which either helps you to influence policy directly so it benefits a few, or ensures a small clique can extract, in our case, billions of Rands without being noticed too much," Gordhan said.

He emphasised that nobody was above the law and South Africans should "connect the dots" when it came to state capture.

"Connecting the dots means understanding the holistic nature of this particular phenomenon and not just seeing things in their isolated fragments. See them in connection with each other so we can understand some sort of picture of this phenomenon called state capture and the kind of damage it is doing."