Zuma can’t in­ter­vene in Pravin Gord­han probe

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

SOUTH African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma said yes­ter­day he backs Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han but can­not in­ter­vene in a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion over a sus­pected spy unit at the tax ser­vice, sig­nalling a pro­longed tus­sle that could rock mar­kets fur­ther.

The rand, which had tum­bled 5 per­cent since Tues­day in re­sponse to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, picked up yes­ter­day and ex­tended gains to 1.3 per­cent af­ter Zuma’s state­ment, although an­a­lysts said the pres­i­dent had of­fered only qual­i­fied sup­port.

News of Gord­han’s sum­mons this week com­pounded in­vestors’ wor­ries about a power strug­gle be­tween Zuma and Gord­han as Africa’s most in­dus­tri­alised econ­omy teeters near re­ces­sion and credit rat­ing agen­cies con­sider down­grad­ing it to “junk”.

The main op­po­si­tion party called yes­ter­day for a par­lia­men­tary de­bate into what it called a “witch-hunt” against Gord­han, who was in charge of the tax ser­vice when the unit un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion was set up.

In­vestors and rat­ing agen­cies back Gord­han’s plans to rein in gov­ern­ment spend­ing in an econ­omy that has been fore­cast by the cen­tral bank to reg­is­ter no growth this year.

In his first pub­lic com­ments on the mat­ter since it sur­faced late on Tues­day, Zuma said he had noted the con­cerns by in­di­vid­u­als and var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. “Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma wishes to ex­press his full sup­port and con­fi­dence in the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance and em­pha­sises the fact that the min­is­ter has not been found guilty of any wrong do­ing,” the pres­i­dency said in a state­ment.

“The Pres­i­dency wishes to also em­pha­sise that Pres­i­dent Zuma does not have pow­ers to stop any in­ves­ti­ga­tions into any in­di­vid­ual/s.”

Gord­han said on Wed­nes­day he had no le­gal obli­ga­tion to obey a po­lice sum­mons linked to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether he used the South African Rev­enue Ser­vice (SARS) to spy on politi­cians in­clud­ing Zuma.

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