Sipho Pityana: Gordhan recall is 'economic sabotage'

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma’s instruction that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan return from an international roadshow is a sign that he and his cohorts can no longer wait to get their hands on the public purse, said Save South Africa in a statement on Monday. 

“Access to the state kitty, through the front door of National Treasury, is more important to them than the national interest. They want to loot, and loot with increased haste, while they still can.” 

READ: If Zuma gets hands on Treasury its game over for SA - Pityana

On Monday, the Presidency issued a statement saying Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister are to return immediately to South Africa. No reasons were given. 

“The Save South Africa campaign believes President Jacob Zuma is acting with unbridled recklessness in instructing the minister of finance and his deputy to cut short their visits to the UK and US. 

“These visits have been carefully planned with business and labour as part of South Africa’s efforts to stave off a downgrade of our sovereign investment status. It is an initiative that the president himself has endorsed,” said the group which was convened by Sipho Pityana, also chairperson of AngloGold Ashanti. 

Save SA is a campaign comprising a number of organisations, civil society groups, business leaders, prominent individuals and South African citizens.

In its statement, the movement said the effect on the rand in the aftermath of the president’s announcement on Monday constitutes a form of “economic sabotage”.

READ: Rand plummets as Presidency cans Gordhan roadshow  

“It is a sign of extremely weak leadership and completely unsettles perceptions of South Africa's stability, as can be seen in the way the rand has tumbled on foreign exchange markets.” 

Save SA said a rapidly depreciating rand has a “massive impact” on the South African economy and its ability to effect economic transformation, “whether radical or not”. 

“The ultimate victims will be the poor, and Zuma must be held accountable for his style of politics. It is clear that he has no concern for South Africa, its image abroad, or the people who will suffer the consequences.” 

The movement called on Parliament to summon Zuma to explain and account for his actions. 

READ: Move by Zuma against Gordhan is a 'major setback' for SA economy

If the president recalls Gordhan and/or Jonas in a cabinet reshuffle, it will be clear that what we are really seeing is the "final, desperate push in the state capture project", Save SA said. 

“President Jacob Zuma may be in the mood for power politics, but he can rest assured that South Africans will not take this lying down. We call on all sectors of society to unite in opposition to his dangerous strategy that is aimed at furthering the state capture project. Only South Africans can stop them, and save South Africa,” it concluded. 

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