Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma must consider removing Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan from Cabinet while he fights his fraud charges, said the ANC Youth League on Tuesday.
"We are hoping the president would be responsible enough to at least allow the minister to attend to these matters, and if it means relieving the minister of his responsibilities so our economy can stabilise then he should apply his mind," ANCYL spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize told News24.
The league has long called for the minister to co-operate with specialised policing unit the Hawks over the so-called South African Revenue of Service (SARS) rogue unit. The ANCYL has also accused him of portraying himself as Jesus Christ and seeking public sympathy.
"We know he has been mobilising for public sympathy, saying it's political. If indeed it is a political matter where people have been using the law and courts to fight political matters the courts have been able to deal with those things."
Head of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams announced on Tuesday that summons had been issued on Gordhan, former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula and former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay for fraud in connection with Pillay's early retirement in 2010.
Mkhize said the prosecuting authority's decision to pursue charges against the minister was a step in the right direction.
Dire consequences for economy
"From where we sit the markets and the confidence of investors have been reluctant to invest because of the issues surrounding the minister."
Mkhize said if a cloud continues to hang above the minister's head it could have dire consequences for the country's economy.
"The president must apply his mind in the interests of our economy, nothing else. Maybe he must allow the minister to attend to the case until it's concluded. If he is acquitted we hope he reappoints him, either [as minister of] finance or of any other department," said Mkhize.
Meanwhile the ANC Women's League has also released a statement on the matter saying it welcomed the news, praising Abrahams for taking the public into his confidence and stating that there was no political interference in the matter.
"The remarks clearly indicate that there is no individual subjected to the manipulation of the law and law enforcement agencies to ulterior political motives," it said in the statement.
It also hit out at claims that there was political interference saying these were the tactics of those trying to portray the ANC government as one more focused on conspiracies than transforming the economy.