Prominent South African private sector leaders are starting to voice their disapproval of the current events surrounding Pravin Gordhan, the minister of finance, although there are calls for more to stand up.
The politically motivated actions by the Hawks have profound economic implications and this will impact every single business in the country.
During the past few days we have seen public responses from leaders such as Saki Macozoma on behalf of Business Leadership South Africa, Cas Coovadia for the Banking Association of South Africa and Telkom chairman Jabu Mabuza who is leading the private sector’s engagement with government following Nenegate.
A tweet from South African business icon also Johann Rupert elicited some debate from other business leaders.
Let us see whether any businessmen speak out this time – cowards, all. J https://t.co/XhqIAG0jBf
— Cutmaker (@cutmaker) August 24, 2016
But there remain a reluctance among some CEOs to comment publically. Moneyweb has contacted at least four prominent CEOs who has been involved in this process, but all declined to comment immediately, but undertook to reevaluate this decision at a later stage.
South African business leaders have to date been very reluctant to voice concerns in public against the political leadership of the country, but rather tried to find solutions through private conversations. The most recent example was the hustle and bustle by various senior leaders, especially in the financial services sector, after Nhlanhla Nene was fired as finance minister in December last year.
The business leaders that have commented mostly did so through industry bodies which include Business Leadership SA and the Banking Association of South Africa.
Cas Coovadia of the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) released a statement stating: “We should be supporting the Minister of Finance to address the social and economic issues and challenges impeding the economy in order to facilitate development and stimulate growth – instead of pulling the rug out from under him.
“This flies in the face of the commitment made by Government and the President, in addition to the commitment business has consistently expressed, that they support the Minister of Finance”.
He added that it was not in the national interest and we remain deeply nervous about the impact this will have on the country and economy, which has already been demonstrated in respect of the decline of the rand in last 24 hours.
We are immensely troubled as this sends out a fundamentally damaging and negative message to ratings agencies, investors and business
The BASA statement also addressed president Jacob Zuma directly: “Mr President, our country stands once more on the edge of the abyss. We urge you to act to preserve the unity and progress we have achieved since December by ensuring an end to the harassment, intimidation, and undermining of the leadership of our most important economic governance institutions.
Business Leadership SA also issued a powerful statement stating: “No one is above the law. However, the present Hawks investigation of the Minister’s former role as SARS Commissioner lacks any legitimacy or credibility.
It is shocking that our national collective effort to avoid a ratings downgrade and to restore inclusive economic growth is now being so insidiously subverted
“If this sinister behaviour is allowed to continue the consequences will be devastating for our economy, and will fatally undermine our national efforts to address poverty, inequality, and unemployment. If there is to be an investigation into this issue, we would urge that this be conducted by a credible institution such as the Public Protector.”
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