Mr Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan
Date of Birth: 12/04/1949
Place of Birth: Durban
Married to Vanitha Raju with 2 children.
Education: Bachelor of Pharmacy, University of Durban.
Career: Pharmacist, King Edward VII Hospital, Durban, 1974-81; Co-chairman of the Transitional Executive Council, 1991-94; Member of Parliament, African National Congress (ANC), 1994-98; Deputy Commissioner, South Africa Revenue Service, 1998-99; Commissioner, South Africa Revenue Service, 1999-2009; Minister of Finance, 2009 to date.
Commentary: Making Pravin Gordhan Finance Minister was one of President Jacob Zuma’s shrewder moves. Gordhan is a close and trusted ally and one ANC leader who does not frighten the markets. His reforms at the Revenue Service brought praise from big business and politicians. A former communist, he now shares the views of Trevor Manuel, his internationally admired predecessor, who is Zuma’s economic supremo as Planning Minister. Gordhan favours sound money, inflation-targeting and strict fiscal discipline, all detested by Zuma’s wavering left-wing supporters.
From a family of Indian origin, Gordhan was brought up in Durban, capital of Zuma’s own KwaZulu-Natal province, and became a student activist in the 1970s and early 1980s, in Zuma’s ANC faction. For four years he worked in the ANC underground, helping to plan some of its most audacious operations. In the mid-1970s, he was expelled from his job as a pharmacist at King Edward VII Hospital after being detained by the police, and was detained twice more.
In 1991, he was appointed Co-Chairman of the Transitional Executive Council that oversaw the change to a democratically elected government. He became a member of parliament, moving to the South Africa Revenue Service in 1998. Until then, the country had enjoyed a ‘culture of non-payment’ in middle-class and corporate life as in the townships. Gordhan and his team controversially offered repeated tax amnesties to defaulters, bringing tens of thousands of new entrants, rich and poor, into the system and ensuring that they kept on paying. The tax take increased with no increase in tax rates. This seemed to surprise Manuel, Finance Minister at the time, whose team had under-forecast revenue every year.