29/03/2018 06:30 SAST | Updated 29/03/2018 06:31 SAST

Gordhan: State Capturers Must 'Pay Back The Money'

"This is just the beginning of the struggle to recover losses from the past ten years."

Sumaya Hisham / Reuters
Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan addresses a memorial service for anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada in Cape Town. April 6, 2017.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan says the phrase "pay back the money" should be brought back, to mobilise citizens and various institutions in the fight to recover funds lost to state capture.

The phrase was coined by opposition parties and civil society organisations during the Nkandla debacle and used to taunt former president Jacob Zuma to pay the costs of upgrade to his private KwaZulu-Natal homestead.

Gordhan was addressing attendees at the Ahmed Kathrada memorial in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"What we have seen since 2016 and more in the past year is how different components in our society have struggled against different forms of injustice... Those who want to benefit themselves; they do so in a fairly sophisticated way," Gordhan said, speaking about corruption in government and state institutions.

"We learnt about Bell Pottinger, the Gupta emails, and even today, it is fascinating to meet people whose names appear in the emails, but they say [they] don't know anything about it. Souls can today be bought for that cheap."

Gordhan said South African institutions have been undermined.

"We have six major state-owned enterprises, and all of them have one or another form of rot, whether at a board or management level. This is just the beginning of the struggle to recover losses from the past ten years. There's still a whole lot to do," he said.

"There's a wave of optimism... marked with a realistic sense of the obstacles that lie before us. There's a huge fight back to recover lost ground... We need to bring back the slogan 'pay back the money'. We can use that money in a constructive way to continue the democratic process."