Fedusa: Hawks’ battle against Gordhan is out of control

Pravin Gordhan and other Sars officials had been told they must report to the Hawks tomorrow.

FILE: Pravin Gordhan. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) has raised concern over a summons by the Hawks against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, saying the action is a battle that's raging out of control.

Yesterday, the Treasury confirmed Gordhan received the letter.

This saw the rand weaken against all major currencies.

It's still uncertain whether the finance minister, together with three other former South African Revenue Services (Sars) officials, will report to the Hawks tomorrow morning.

Fedusa's Dennis George says workers will suffer when the economy goes into a recession.

"This depreciation is also linked to the work that we as labour and business have been doing with government stabilise the economic environment but it seems to us that the Hawks is dead set on this whole process, undermining the work that the social partners are doing."

SOMETHING FISHY

At the same time, The South African Communist Party (SACP) says its suspicious that Gordhan has been summoned by the Hawks just weeks after the municipal elections.

The party says it appears a political decision was taken to put the matter on hold for the duration of campaigning since allegations of Gordhan's involvement in an alleged covert Sars unit had already surfaced before the polls.

The SACP says political timing and considerations should play no part in decisions made by the Hawks.

The party's Alex Mashilo says while the Hawks have a responsibility to deal with any wrongdoing, the process must be fair.

"It is as if there was a political decision taken that this may not be executed until the elections were concluded. It's very suspicious but at the same time we must not suggest that there is an individual or an institution that is above the law."

HAWKS MUM

Despite the fact that Treasury has confirmed that Gordhan is talking to his lawyers, the Hawks still will not comment on reports that he's been summoned to answer questions about the controversial Sars unit.

The Sunday Times had claimed a unit created while Gordhan was running Sars had spied on people, before apologising and retracting the claim.

But already some investors have said they believe this is a bid to weaken Gordhan, after the Cabinet Lekgotla appeared to resolve that State-owned enterprises will now be overseen by a new committee chaired by President Jacob Zuma.

The Presidency has also denied reports that Zuma and Gordhan are in a dispute over South African Airways, which is chaired by Dudu Myeni, who is also the chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation.

DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE RESPONDS

Yesterday, the Democratic Alliance released a statement saying Gordhan's arrest would be a 'disaster' for South Africa.

In the statement, the party said, "Reports that the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan has been requested to report to the Hawks at 10am on Thursday 25 August 2016, is a major escalation in the 'Sars Wars'. The fact that the Minister has reportedly been requested to appear before the Hawks suggests he may be informed about possible charges and may face arrest in connection with allegations relating to the Sars 'rogue unit' (sic)."

They went onto say the Gordhan's arrest would shatter investor confidence, risk a sovereign ratings downgrade and be a disaster for the already fragile zero growth, zero jobs economy in South Africa.

"The only option to get to the bottom of the allegations relating to the Sars 'rogue unit' (sic) is the appointment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution."

Additional reporting by Stephen Grootes.