Presidency denies claims of a conspiracy against Pravin Gordhan

There's been a series of developments around the finance minister, the Hawks & Sars today.

Pravin Gordhan. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - The Presidency says rumours and gossip insinuating some conspiracy against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan are baseless and won't divert government from growing the economy.

But it won't comment on investigations into the South African Revenue Service (Sars) as that could impact on the independence of the law enforcement agencies.

The statement comes after African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said today Gordhan has the party's full support and the Hawks were trying to destabilize the country by asking him questions about the so-called Sars rogue unit just before he delivered his Budget speech.

Meanwhile, Gordhan said he will respond to that letter today or tomorrow, and says Sars commissioner Tom Moyane is behaving outrageously by refusing to stop restructuring the institution.

At the same time, Mantashe says the Hawks need to conduct any investigation properly.

"Proper codes should be followed. When you begin to publish that you are investigating there and there, it creates panic and uncertainty."

Gordhan has described as "outrageous" the Hawks' decision to send him questions.


The finance minister has described Moyane's defiance as "unacceptable".

The latest comments have raised further questions about Moyane's future, as well as tensions between Sars and the Treasury.

Gordhan says it's unacceptable for the head of a government entity to be defiant of the executive authority.

Last month, as Sars maintained its silence over claims that Moyane wanted to defy Gordhan over restructuring plans, it emerged a report aimed at clearing up issues around a spy unit had been published with a crucial disclaimer.

Reports suggested Moyane asked for legal opinion on whether he had to obey Gordhan's order to stop his restructuring plans.

In reply to detailed questions about whether Moyane wanted to press ahead with his restructuring of Sars, despite Gordhan's objections, Sars said Moyane had to apply his mind to the KPMG report.

When former finance minister Trevor Manuel was asked what he would do as finance minister, he said he would draft a letter of dismissal for Moyane.


At the same time, the Hawks says if the ANC is concerned by the questions it submitted to Gordhan, the party should schedule a meeting to discuss the matter.

The Hawks' Hangwani Mulaudzi says the unit's national head, Berning Ntlemeza, is ready to meet with the ANC.

"If the ANC has any issues of concerns about the questions we have sent to the minister, we are always available to interact with them."

He denied the questions sent to Gordhan had anything to do with the investigation in to a Sars unit accused of spying on people.

"There is no investigation that we are conducting. These are just questions that we have sent and we are of the view that the matter is between us and the minister of finance."

Mulaudzi declined to disclose what the questions related to.

Meanwhile, Mantashe says he knows who leaked information about the Hawks' letter to the media and he is going to deal with that person.

"We think that it's mischievous and malice intended to destabilise the country."


Moyane, meanwhile, said he can't comment on any of the issues around Sars or Gordhan today and is only seized with collecting revenue, as is his mandate.

Other Sars officials agree saying they simply have nothing to say about the comments by Gordhan and Manuel.

With Mantashe saying the ANC fully supports Gordhan, it could turn out to be a game-changer, as it appears conflict over who controls the Treasury is intensifying.