After SARS and SAA, Gordhan is not backing down again. It’s Zuma’s move.

The day of reckoning, potentially Nenegate II, is rapidly approaching. Ever since he was reappointed as South Africa’s Finance Minister, insiders realised Pravin Gordhan would sit uncomfortably in a Jacob Zuma-run cabinet. For rational observers, it was only a matter of time before an inevitable showdown. Gordhan raised the prospect early on by threatening to resign if SARS boss Tom Moyane were not ejected. Both he and Moyane stayed. A similar confrontation was promised over South African Airways. Once again, Zuma picked up the gauntlet and Gordhan retired from the field of battle. This time, however, the finmin is not backing down. He has very publicly rejected a demand by the Zuma-loyal Hawks to “present” himself to answer what the whole rational world regards as trumped up charges. Gordhan says he is under no legal obligation to comply with the unprecedented order. He is supported by SA’s Business Leadership which yesterday issued a powerful statement intimating the Hawks are driven by sinister motives. BLSA argued if there are concerns around Gordhan’s behaviour while running SA Revenue Services, a “credible” institution like the Public Protector should be charged with doing the investigation. South Africa’s #3 political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, offers an interesting perspective here. Even though they believe Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is an innocent man and that the attack on him was been engineered by President Jacob Zuma “under the instruction of the Gupta family” they urge him to meet the Hawks to respect the institutions of the State. But that would only postpone High Noon. Gordhan is clearly tired of playing for time. Given what he has been through, the 67 year old finmin is now ready to be fired, and let the financial markets unleash the hellfire that began with Nenegate. It’s Jacob Zuma’s move. Strap yourself in South Africa – much turbulence lies ahead. – Alec Hogg

By Jenni Evans

Cape Town – The EFF on Wednesday called on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to reconsider his decision to not present himself to the Hawks, even though the party believes he is innocent.

“The last thing we need is anyone being treated as if they are above the law. At all times, we ought to respect institutions of the state and uphold them above individuals who may be at their helm,” spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement.

Julius Malema, leader of South Africa's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), gestures during a media briefing in Alexander township near Sandton, South Africa August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Julius Malema, leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), gestures during a media briefing in Alexander township near Sandton, South Africa August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

EFF president Julius Malema said Gordhan should not be a “cry baby”. He should simply go to see the Hawks, otherwise there would always be a dark cloud hanging over him.

Ndlozi said: “To refuse to present himself to the Hawks will be to act with the same disrespect shown by Zuma and his faction to institutions of the state. No one, even if they be finance minister or president, is above institutions of the state.”

The EFF described the move by the Hawks as part of an unrelenting pursuit by ANC factions to criminalise the minister. It appeared they were “gunning for Treasury under the instruction of the Gupta family“.

Under no obligation

“We all should not be seen to defy institutions of the state, as this will render them useless.”

Gordhan said on Wednesday that he was asked to present himself to the Hawks’ offices on Thursday to provide a warning statement. He said he had taken legal advice and was under no obligation to do so.

He said the head of the Hawks, General Berning Ntlemeza, told him on May 20, 2016, in response to his attorney’s inquiry, that he was not being investigated. He said he had already answered the 27 questions they sent him and he believed any allegations against him were wholly unfounded.

Gordhan allegedly acted corruptly by granting early retirement to the former deputy head of Sars, Ivan Pillay, and then approving his re-appointment as deputy commissioner on a contract basis for three years.

The Hawks are further investigating Gordhan for the alleged creation of an intelligence unit within Sars. He was Sars commissioner between 1999 and 2009.

On Thursday morning, Pillay and former Sars group executive Johann van Loggerenberg are expected to visit the Hawks’ office in Pretoria to provide warning statements. – News24


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