Business 15.2.2017 11:59 pm

Treasury warns of ‘fake news’ campaign ahead of budget speech

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan arrives with members of the National Treasury to present his 2016 Budget Vote Speech in the National Assembly on February 24, 2015 at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. Gordhan that he will be cutting government expenditure while still making R870-billion available for infrastructure development. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Ruvan Boshoff)

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan arrives with members of the National Treasury to present his 2016 Budget Vote Speech in the National Assembly on February 24, 2015 at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. Gordhan that he will be cutting government expenditure while still making R870-billion available for infrastructure development. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Ruvan Boshoff)

The warning was made in response to a press release sent by Edward Zuma, son of President Jacob Zuma, on Wednesday.

National Treasury cautioned the public and media on Wednesday about a “disinformation campaign” being waged before Finance minister Pravin Gordhan presents the country’s budget next week.

“National Treasury wishes to caution the public and media houses regarding the disinformation and ‘fake news’ campaign directed towards its leadership as it prepares for the 2017 Budget,” said Treasury spokesperson, Yolisa Tyantsi.

“In the past few days, various attacks and unfounded allegations have been made with the intention to misdirect the leadership’s focus. Coupled with that are allegations that are reported without any further interrogation or establishing the veracity thereof,” she said.

The warning was made in response to a press release sent to journalists by Edward Zuma, son of President Jacob Zuma, on Wednesday.

Zuma said the press release was in response to media reports on the same day about the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

In his release, sent via WhatsApp, Zuma said: “Once again, we are being taken for a ride by the gurus of white monopoly capital assisted by Pravin and cronies. They are at it again in trying [to do] everything in their powers to cripple our government and the African National Congress [by] continuously shifting the focus on President Jacob Zuma.”

Sassa is in a crisis as it attempts to meet a deadline set by the Constitutional Court of 1 April to issue a new contract to a service provider to manage the country’s monthly grant payments to over 17 million citizens.

In 2013, the Constitutional Court found the contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to be invalid.

The agency is expected to apply on Thursday to the Constitutional Court for an extension of the CPS contract.

“Today, Pravin is making noise about the Sassa matter. Correctly, he is cautioning us of the dangers we face on this, however, we know that it’s not coming out honestly as he is strategically lobbying this to be taken by his masters who have done everything to see the collapse of the pensions payments,” said Zuma.

“I challenge him to a live debate and [will] bring along my special files of their self enrichment in the name of black economic empowerment.”

He said he also wanted to debate retail billionaire and one of the country’s richest men, Christo Wiese. Zuma accused Gordhan and Wiese of “capturing the Public Investment Corporation (PIC)”. The PIC is one of the biggest known funds on the continent tasked with investing government pensions.

“They have captured PIC but were never happy with pensions being handled by other people but them. They, Pravin and Christo, are now wanting to portray themselves as prophets of doom and saviours of this country,” said Zuma.

– African News Agency

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