SA academics throw their weight behind Gordhan

The academics are concerned about the economic consequences of the spat between Gordhan and the Hawks.

SA Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan speaks to a group of UCT students a week before the 2016 municipal elections. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A group of 70 academics have added their voice to the ongoing battle between Finance Minister Pravin Gordan and the Hawks.

Gordhan and three former South African Revenue Services (Sars) officials have been identified as suspects in an investigation into the nature and conduct of a now disbanded Sars investigation unit.

He refused to present himself at the Hawks offices for a warning statement as per the unit's instruction.

In a letter, the academics noted that since early this year, Gordhan has been subjected to an unrelenting attack from the Hawks and want the president to intervene.

One of the academics, Lumkile Mondi, says they are just concerned about what will happen to the economy if the spat between the Hawks and the minister continues.

Mondi says they believes the Hawks' actions prove they don't care about the economy.

"With all these efforts by South Africans - that the Hawks and indirectly the president are all destroying - all the efforts of South Africans who are committed to make sure that poverty, inequality and unemployment are solved."

They have called on the president, his cabinet and African National Congress to assist by bringing what they call the dangerous set of events to an end in the interest of the country and economy.

SACP BEHIND GORDHAN

The South African Communist Party (SACP) says it is applauding Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for not reporting to the Hawks headquarters yesterday, saying he should not give in to intimidation.

Yesterday, Gordhan failed to report to the Hawks after they demanded that he give them a warning statement.

But there is still no comment from the African National Congress (ANC) on the dispute between the Hawks and Gordhan.

Gordhan says the Hawks' claims that he behaved illegally in setting up a unit at Sars have no basis in fact or the law.

SACP second deputy General Secretary Solly Mapaila says Gordhan did the right thing yesterday.

"If there's a case to him they must press charges and they must not find mechanism to intimidate him and to call him and abuse the processes of the law."

And he says only people involved in state capture would benefit from Gordhan being pressurised.

"And among this are the Guptas. These are the people, as we speak, they have used their influence on Eskom, on IDC, on SAA and Pravin has been a stumbling block for them to loot these particular strategic SOEs."

Yesterday, the presidency said President Jacob Zuma could not intervene to stop the investigation.