Editorials 26.8.2016 07:50 am

Hawks’ Gordhan probe smells fishy

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Neil McCartney

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Neil McCartney

The timing of the Hawks’ latest move is another indicator of how this unit is manipulated for political motives.

It is beyond doubt that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s harassment by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, commonly known as the Hawks, has nothing to do with the rule of law.

It is rather a shameless manipulation of an institution meant to be independent in carrying out its constitutional mandate of preventing and investigating priority crimes without fear or favour. Instead, the Hawks are being used as a political tool to pursue the political and personal agendas of those who wield power.

The irony of all of this is that the puppet masters are the same people behind the disbandment as the Hawks predecessors, the Scorpions, an elite police unit they accused former president Thabo Mbeki of using to destroy his political foes, including President Jacob Zuma.

We have previously said Gordhan, like anyone else, is not above the law and should face the music if he has a case to answer. But the manner in which the Hawks have conducted their investigation into the so-called Sars rogue spy unit raises a lot of questions.

First, the case the Hawks are investigating so doggedly is almost a decade old. A few months ago when newspapers revealed that Gordhan was being investigated, the Hawks denied this and publicly stated he was not under any investigation. What has changed between then and now?

The timing of the Hawks’ latest move is another indicator of how this unit is manipulated for political motives. It occurs soon after the local government elections, suggesting they were instructed by someone in higher political echelons to wait until the polls were over.

The decision also comes shortly after government announced Zuma would take over the oversight role of parastatals, a responsibility that has traditionally been that of the finance minister.

The Hawks’ sustained hounding of Gordhan lays bare the plot to tarnish him and have him removed from his post so a few ruling party untouchables can, with impunity, amass as much wealth as possible for themselves through dodgy mega deals, such as the nuclear project.

It’s chilling that state machinery is used by a corrupt bunch against a man protecting the public purse.

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