What’s hap­pen­ing, Mr Prez?

CityPress - - Voices -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.