What’s happening, Mr Prez?
Just when we thought Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had restored confidence in the economy after delivering a tough, sobering budget, it has emerged that he could easily have chosen not to deliver his speech.
Gordhan has confirmed that he was asked questions by the Hawks related to the existence of a so-called rogue unit, which harks back to the days when he was commissioner of the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
There is an investigation under way into the activities of a Sars investigative unit, but it is difficult to draw any conclusions because of the many agendas at play and contrasting versions by those involved.
But we, like the ANC, do wonder why, after all the silence, the questions were suddenly sent to the minister days before the delivery of a crucial budget.
In its statement, the ANC said: “We are extremely concerned that four days before the minister delivered the budget speech, questions from the Hawks were sent to the minister. The timing of these questions indicates clearly that there was intention to distract the minister during this important time.”
The ANC was asking the right questions, although we can never know how much of this sentiment was attributable to internal party dynamics and tensions.
But with the party so involved in government appointments and policies, it cannot act like an interested, passive observer.
It has the power to call current Sars commissioner Tom Moyane, Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma to one table and remind them of national priorities, especially at a precarious period such as this.
No minister or any official of government should think of themselves to be above the law. Gordhan should subject himself to police investigation like any of us would. But Gordhan has long believed that the investigations into the responsible unit have not been conducted properly and impartially.
The sooner the investigations are concluded, the better, so that people do not have to live with a cloud above their heads. There should be no suspicion that law enforcement agencies are used to fight political battles. The consequences of this could have a long-lasting and damaging effect on our constitutional democracy.