The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has voiced its concern regarding the manner in which the ongoing investigations into alleged misconduct by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan are being handled by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and President Jacob Zuma.
Gordhan and three former South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials were summoned to the Hawks’ offices last week for a warning statement, but the minister chose not to present himself.
The four have been identified as suspects in an investigation into the nature and conduct of a now-defunct Sars unit.
Zuma’s office has since released a statement saying he had “full support and confidence in the minister of finance”‚ but he lacked the “powers to stop any investigation” into him.
After news broke on Gordhan being summoned to the Hawks headquarters in Pretoria, markets reacted negatively and saw the rand immediately weaken.
“It appears that the investigations are being orchestrated to cause the maximum reputational damage to Minister Gordhan, with complete disregard of the impact which this unfortunate saga has to date had on the South African economy and the credibility of the institutions involved,” said Ian Nicholls, president of the NMBBC.
“Whilst the NMBBC recognises and respects that no person is above the law, it is the responsibility of the organs of state and political leaders to conduct themselves, and their activities in a transparent manner and also in the best interests of the country.
“It is inappropriate for the investigations to be conducted in such a public and apparently politically motivated manner,” added Nicholls.
“Given the current uncertainty, global and local investor sentiment is rapidly declining. This situation cannot be allowed to continue, as it directly affects South Africa’s credit-rating prospects and threatens the reputation of National Treasury.”
Nicholls emphasised that the Business Chamber remained a non-political body but would continue to address critical issues facing business and the economy in South Africa.
“The Minister of Finance deserves the unequivocal support of the political leadership of the country, as well as business, organised labour and concerned citizens at large.
“Given the potential serious impact of these proposed actions upon our country’s economy, we as business cannot remain mute. South Africa needs to be the priority, not any personal or political agendas,” he concluded.
– African News Agency (ANA)