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It's like Bell Pottinger's fake news all over again, warns Pravin Gordhan

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says he will not be intimidated by campaigns to smear his name.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says he will not be intimidated by campaigns to smear his name.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says coordinated fake news, similar to that run by discredited UK PR firm Bell Pottinger on behalf of the Guptas, is alive in SA, with an aim to discredit those who are exposing state capture.

Gordhan said some of this campaign was aimed at smearing his name, but vowed that he will "not be intimidated".

Gordhan was speaking to the media following the national executive swearing-in ceremony at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guest house in Tshwane on Thursday.

He said he was gripped by the task of cleaning up state-owned entities and getting them on a path to self-sufficiency. His reappointment to the job as public enterprises minister under President Cyril Ramaphosa, he said, was a sign that much more work needed to be done, adding that he will not be distracted by peddlers of fake news whose aims are to smear his name.

"We have got a job to do and to execute the mandate that he [Ramaphosa] has given all of us, part of which is to get state entities to work efficiently and become self-sufficient, and to continue to unravel state capture and corruption within these entities," said Gordhan.

He added that doing so "will have a lot of ripple effects, and as those begin to reach people who are impacted by these exposures, you will see a lot of fake narratives".

"You might already see an increase in the Bell Pottinger-type of activities, so that you smear people who are actually doing the good work of exposing corruption. We are not going to be intimidated in the course of doing that," he said.

Gordhan said his clean-up campaign in the SOEs will now move to top gear.

Top of the agenda was to make the state parastatals independent of the national fiscus, although admitting that some would take longer than others.

Furthermore, Gordhan said, it was paramount to re-position Eskom and make the ports under Transnet economically efficient for the country.

As for arms company Denel, Gordhan said he wanted to see the entity generating its own revenue from the bailout it received from Treasury, while SAA needed to be urgently stabilised and the process of getting a strategic equity partner started.

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