Opposition parties question timing of Gordhan’s summons

Opposition parties described the move as an attack on the Treasury that will have dire effects on the economy.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivering his national Budget speech in Parliament on 24 February 2016. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties in Parliament have questioned the timing of the summons against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The National Prosecute Authority (NPA) today announced Gordhan and former Sars managers Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula will face several charges, including fraud, in court next month.

Some opposition parties have described the move as a "tragedy that further fuels perceptions of an agenda to destabilise the economy".

Opposition parties have condemned what they describe as an attack on the Treasury as "short sighted" which will have dire effects on the economy.

The Freedom Front Plus' Pieter Mulder said: "Surely there could have been decisions made to do this after December. Are we pleading for a downgrade?"

Former Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has tweeted and called on the lord to open the eyes and ears of South Africa's leadership.



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Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters' Nazier Paulse believes the move has been driven by corruption.

"This is the lengths a faction within the ANC [African National Congress] would go to, to get their hands on state resources."

With little over two weeks before the Finance Minister delivers the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament, the Inkatha Freedom Party's Narend Singh says the timing cannot be overlooked.

"One gets the impression somebody is trying to bring the county down."

The announcement reverberated across the markets, knocking the rand by over 3% against the dollar earlier today.

This issue has the potential to expose serious fault lines within the ANC.

ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the SACP have all already publicly backed Gordhan.

But the ANC Women's League has appeared to take a different view, suggesting that anyone who questions the independence has their own agenda and that imperialists are trying to stop the economy from transforming.

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Luthuli House itself has already called on people involved in this to stay silent, but it seems that the instruction is being ignored.

That may be an indication of how strongly people feel about this issue and how divisive it could become if President Jacob Zuma tried to take any action against Gordhan.