Retired Constitutional Court justice Zakeria Yacoob has accused President Jacob Zuma of being manipulative and dishonest, charging that he was the mastermind behind baseless allegations levelled against Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan.
“I think Jacob Zuma is manipulating it because he is a dishonest fellow. He has done lots and lots of dirty things, and he doesn’t want to be caught out,” Yacoob said during a radio interview with Power FM on Monday morning.
Justice Yacoob has become the flag-bearer of the #HandsoffPravinGordhan movement created to raise funds to cover the legal costs of the embattled head of Treasury as well as other former senior Sars officials accused of running an illicit tax surveillance unit at the tax-collection agency.
At the weekend, the Sunday Independent reported that the group, including exonerated police watchdog Ipid boss Robert McBride, met in Durban with Gordhan in attendance to devise a financial strategy.
Yacoob said its objective was to ensure an honest government in the country, as “we don’t have it now”.
“I’m very unhappy about what we thought the country would be, when we fought for our democracy. We thought we would have honesty at the very least. And the constitution of the ANC says that every member of the ANC must be honest … I think if you ask Jacob Zuma himself, he will never be able to say to you that he’s honest.”
Yacoob said he advised Gordhan on the legality of the unit in his personal capacity. He said the Hawks’ case wouldn’t succeed because they were just making a “noise” without any basis to arrest the minister.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is yet to decide whether to charge Gordhan for the so-called rogue unit and for allegedly contravening anti-corruption legislation, such as the Public Finance Management Act.
Gordhan has maintained he did nothing wrong, and recently dared the unit to arrest him.