Anti-apartheid struggle veterans Ahmed Kathrada and Barbara Hogan on Friday expressed their solidarity with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is being investigated and was issued with a summons by the Hawks.
“Dear Pravin, we recall your courageous and consistent struggle record as a freedom fighter and later as minister. Try as they may, no mischievous elements will succeed in their nefarious efforts to dent your contribution,” the veterans said in a joint media release.
“Certainly not in South Africa, and not in the world. Keep strong.”
Gordhan was asked to present himself to the specialised Directorate Priority Crime Investigation, better known as the Hawks, to sign a warning letter in connection with the unit’s probe into the alleged setting up of a rogue spy unit within the SA Revenue Service.
Kathrada and Hogan wrote a letter to Gordhan where they addressed him as “friend, comrade and freedom fighter,” the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said.
The veterans said that they have been following “with interest and increasing anxiety” what they called an undisguised campaign against Gordhan as a minister and individual.
“Of significance is, putting it mildly, the not-too-glorious background of your main accusers. They can never succeed in hiding this,” the veterans said.
‘Let me do my job’
Gordhan was asked to present himself to the Hawks on Thursday. In a statement, Gordhan said he would not do so, saying he had been advised by his lawyers that allegations made by the Hawks in a missive sent to him on Monday were “wholly unfounded on any version of events”.
On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma expressed his “full support and confidence” in Gordhan but said he had no power to stop the elite unit’s investigation.
The presidency said Zuma did not have powers to stop any investigations. Zuma said despite the shock to the economy, which saw the rand sliding as soon as news broke, he was not able to step in.
“The negative effect of these matters on our economy, personal pressure on the individuals affected as well as the heads of institutions, however disturbing, cannot be cause for the president to intervene unconstitutionally,” Zuma said in a statement.
Gordhan was asked to present himself to the Hawks by 2pm on Thursday. The minister had, however, issued a statement saying he would not do so, saying he had been advised by his lawyers that allegations made by the Hawks in a missive sent to him on Monday were “wholly unfounded on any version of events”.
The veterans said that they were “immensely pleased” that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa publicly supported Gordhan.
“Barbara and I had been aware that our lone voices of support and solidarity for you may not be of any significance,” Kathrada said.
He said when he saw in the media that Ramaphosa supported Gordhan it was spirit-lifting.
“Not surprising, but immensely spirit-lifting. We can now proudly claim that Cyril has echoed the feelings and voices of the vast majority of well-meaning South Africans.”
On Wednesday, Gordhan said, he would be prepared to assist a “bona fide” investigation by the Hawks to the best of his ability.
He said: “I have a job to do in a difficult economic environment and serve South Africa as best I can. Let me do my job.”
– African News Agency (ANA)