Concerns raised as Hawks-Gordhan spat hurts economy

The rand took a hard knock and is currently trading at R15.94 to the dollar.

FILE. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC)'s Economic Transformation Commission Enoch Godongwana, says he's worried about the impact the fight between the Hawks and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is having on the economy, and that the Hawks could have managed the situation differently.

The markets don't seem to like this little debacle one bit.

The rand took a hard knock and is now trading at just under the R16 to the dollar after the Hawks issued its statement yesterday.

Officials from the Moody's ratings agency are landing in South Africa today as the Hawks say they're preparing to act against the finance minister, saying he's refused to answer questions about a South African Revenue Service (Sars) unit he helped to create.

But Gordhan says he's responded to all of the letters they've sent to him.

Godongwana says the Hawks could have approached this issue differently.

"There is no doubt, even the timing of the issuance in terms of the 27 questions, all of that combined playing in the public space is not helpful."

He also says this is clearly causing jitters in the economy and that is making him worried.

Earlier, African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said he doesn't want to talk about this issue at the moment, but that he still wishes this had been dealt with professionally and quietly.

The Hawks say their legal team is forging a way forward for the unit to use its constitutional powers to get Gordhan to answer the questions.

But constitutional law professor Pierre de Vos says the Hawks can't just demand answers.

"They will have to tell him in what capacity he is being asked the questions. He has a right of course to remain silent and not answer the questions."

The Hawks say the finance minister has missed two deadlines to respond.


Moody's officials are seeing headlines and statements about the Hawks preparing to use their constitutional powers against the person they see as pivotal to the economy.

Economist Azar Jammine says if the Hawks' action against the finance minister were to result in him being arrested, there would be a huge reaction.

Moody's officials are expected to meet top officials at National Treasury and in other financial institutions during their trip.