Ramaphosa: Gordhan probe must take its course

Cape Town - An investigation regarding Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan must take its course, but needs to avoid rattling investors, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa cautioned on Friday during his official visit to Singapore.

The Hawks are investigating the establishment of a so-called "rogue" unit at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) at the time when Gordhan was at the helm.

Ramaphosa said that, while "nobody is above the law", the way the situation has been handled by state institutions was a cause of "concern", Reuters reported on Friday.

"Nothing must be done to cause problems or difficulties in state institutions such as Treasury and also cause an imbalance on our economic future," Ramaphosa told reporters in Singapore.

Bloomberg reported on Friday that Ramaphosa said regarding the Gordhan investigation that no one is above the law, "but clearly the way it’s been done so far has caused some concern in a number of quarters".

Gordhan, in turn, said in an interview on Bloomberg TV in New York this week, the probe  is “a bit of political mischief” by those trying to undermine the independence of the National Treasury.

Gordhan led a delegation of business leaders at an investor conference as part of an effort to boost confidence in the SA economy and stave of a credit-rating downgrade.

In a speech delivered at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, Ramaphosa said he recognises that more effective state provision of education, health, municipal services, public transport and social security is needed to improve the living standards of the poor.

"We are constantly improving the ability of the state to deliver quality services better. In this, we have identified a leading role for our state-owned companies. We are working to transform and strengthen them.

READ: Hawks move on Gordhan unravels all rand’s good work

Ramaphosa said his delegation came to Singapore to learn from its "remarkable progress", while at the same time sharing South Africa's own experiences of development.

"It is because of visionary nation builders like Lee Kuan Yew and Nelson Mandela that our countries began crafting a new narrative of hope, prosperity and lasting peace," said Ramaphosa.

"For the benefit of the people of our two countries, we must now work to strengthen our bilateral relations and improve trade."

In Ramaphosa's view, Singapore is well positioned to take advantage of what he calls rewarding investment opportunities offered by SA as it "re-ignites economic growth to defeat poverty, unemployment, inequality and underdevelopment".

READ: NUM backs Ramaphosa as next ANC president

He sees this as a social compact that unites all South Africans in reducing poverty and inequality through investment, employment creation and skills development.

"By 2030, we envision a reconstructed society where everybody is empowered to embrace their full potential, where we trade more and where citizens work to create plenty," said Ramaphosa.

"Given our long history of racial division and social exclusion, we see a developmental state as a critical instrument to achieve socio-economic transformation."

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