NPA's Gordhan blunder dominates headlines

2016-10-31 21:04
NPA head Shaun Abrahams during the press conference. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

NPA head Shaun Abrahams during the press conference. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The withdrawal of criminal charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan by NPA head Shaun Abrahams dominated headlines on Monday.

The move, underscored by rumours of political interference in the pursuit of Gordhan, caused the rand to rally and take back ground. It was battered by the announcement of his prosecution on October 11.

The rand advanced to the strongest in almost six weeks, leading global gains against the dollar on speculation South Africa may avert a debt downgrade this year after the charges were dropped.

The currency strengthened as much as 2.4% and was up 2.1% at 13.5550 per dollar by 15:36 GMT in Johannesburg, set for the highest close since September 27.

The rand gained most among 31 major and emerging-market currencies against the dollar and headed for a second consecutive monthly advance.

- Read the article here: Rand set for highest close since September

Gordhan was due to appear in court on fraud charges on Wednesday, along with former South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Oupa Magashula and former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay. This was in relation to Pillay’s being granted early retirement in 2010, before he was rehired on a contract.

Abrahams said he was satisfied that Magashula, Pillay, and Gordhan did not have the requisite intention to act unlawfully.

He said he reviewed the matter following representations from Magashula and Pillay, and submissions from Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation.

Gordhan refused to make representations, but Abrahams said the Hawks had documented his version of events.

Former ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa called for Abrahams to resign and the EFF wants him struck from the roll of advocates.

- Read the article here: Abrahams must be disbarred, struck off the roll - EFF 

"If he had honour and moral fibre he would have stepped down, rather than blame a junior to him. He must take responsibility as a man. His actions are cowardice," Phosa said.

He said Abrahams' actions were "the grease to the wheel" to his earlier application to have the General Council of the Bar disbar him.

Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana SC, chairperson of the General Council of the Bar told Netwerk24 that it is a long process to get someone disbarred.

He said he would probably need until next Wednesday to go trough the EFF's application and only then can the process start. It will be referred to a small committee. 

"It will take some time before a decision will be made," Ngalwana said.

The SACP said the charges against Gordhan were ill-considered and amateurishly handled. In announcing the cancellation of its planned picket outside the court in support of Gordhan, the party said Abrahams was bound to drop the charges, as they had no basis in law.

"The SACP reiterates its position that the pursuit of Minister Gordhan at all cost was a direct result not of the law duly taking its course, but an agenda to manufacture a pretext for him to be removed from the position.

Marches to go ahead

The SACP has cancelled its planned protest for Wednesday, when Gordhan was supposed to have appeared in court, but Save South Africa's march will go ahead as a victory march.

In a statement released on Sunday, Save South Africa, a grouping of local NGOs, said that the “People’s Assembly Against State Capture” would go ahead as they are “even more committed now to intensifying action to rescue the captured state”.

"We haveto continue to show that we are committed to this country, its economy and to addressing the acute social crisis that has been brought about by corruption, mismanagement and political intrigue," Save SA said in a statement after the judgment.

The EFF's three-pronged march is also going ahead.

“The protest action on the 2nd of November 2016 will be demanding the following: that the South African government must provide free quality education at higher education from 2017; that Jacob Zuma must immediately step down as president and head of state in SA; Guptas must be disconnected from all state contracts and must immediately leave South Africa; Shawn Abrahams the NDPP of Jacob Zuma must immediately step down from The National Prosecuting Authority,” party leader Julius Malema told eNCA earlier.

Read more on:    npa  |  sars  |  pravin gor­dhan  |  shaun abrahams

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