Pravin Gordhan retirement - State Enterprises Bill
Pravin Gordhan advocates for the State Enterprises Bill to support struggling State-Owned Entities. Photo: SA News

Home » Pravin Gordhan’s retirement sparks major reactions

Pravin Gordhan’s retirement sparks major reactions

Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan’s retirement came as a huge shock to the ANC and many others who also voiced their reactions.

Pravin Gordhan retirement - State Enterprises Bill
Pravin Gordhan advocates for the State Enterprises Bill to support struggling State-Owned Entities. Photo: SA News

In an interview published by Business Day, news of Pravin Gordhan’s retirement came as something of a shock. Most of all to the African National Congress (ANC), which is battling to fill its candidate list for the upcoming General Election on 29 May 2024.


pravin gordhan
Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan’s retirement has been welcomed by many. Image: Kopano Tlape GCIS

Gordhan (74) has said he wants to prioritise his family and health and will not be available as a candidate on the ANC’s electoral list at the end of the current term (ending 29 May). We wanted to gauge how he was perceived throughout his political career. Moreover, we wondered what his legacy will be years down the line.


He’s occupied several strategic positions in the ANC government since South Africa’s democracy in 1994:

  • Finance Minister (2009 – 2014) and (2015 – 2017).
  • Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (2014 – 2015).
  • Minister of Public Enterprises (2018 – current).

However, according to a report by The Citizen, after ‘50 years of activism’ as Gordhan calls it, many will be cheering Pravin Gordhan’s retirement. And it’s believed difficulties around the ‘secret sale of SAA’ is the sticky situation he wants to extricate himself from.


Transnet bailout
The National Treasury’s approval of a R47 billion support package for Transnet has drawn criticism from the Democratic Alliance (DA). Image: File

Another reason for Pravin Gordhan’s retirement may be internal politics and conflicting ministries working to resolve state-owned entities (SOEs). On one end you have the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe. Then there’s the Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. Too many institutions, some believe.  

Then there are the rumours that Gordhan’s whole department was to be dissolved anyway. Professor Andre Duvenhage of North West University (NWU) believes the issues Gordhan had to battle within ANC were, at times, insurmountable. And while he was successful during his time at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), he was less well suited to formal politicking in his roll of Minister of Finance.


President Cyril Ramaphosa with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan at a media briefing at Megawatt Park. Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Economist Dawie Roodt is far less complementary and much more outspoken about Pravin Gordhan’s retirement. In an article published by Daily Investor, Roodt calls Gordhan the worst Finance Minister South Africa has ever seen.

Although there are many contributing factors to South Africa’s rising debt, Gordhan was the minister who oversaw it all. Following his predecessor, Trevor Manuel, Gordhan was helming the ship when South Africa’s debt-to-GDP began to increase exponentially.

Roodt even lays the collapse of South Africa’s SOEs at Gordhan’s feet. “He was the one who set the collapse of the state-owned enterprises – including Eskom, Transnet, the South African Post Office, and SABC – into motion. They are all in deep financial trouble,” says Roodt.  


Pravin Gordhan
Following Pravin Gordhan’s retirement, he will prioritise his health and family. Image: GCIS/Kopano Tlape

Energy expert Mthunzi Luthuli told Newzroom Afrika that Gordhan should have stepped down long ago as all the parastatals have failed under his watch. “Pravin Gordhan keeps giving excuses about state capture, geopolitical forces and all sorts of other excuses,” concluded Luthuli.