Zuma v Gordhan narrative is 'toxic' - Presidency

Johannesburg - The Presidency on Friday condemned what it called a "toxic narrative" in the media about a war between President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The narrative that Zuma wanted to take control of National Treasury was being peddled in local and foreign media, Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement.

"It should be noted that the president controls all government departments including the National Treasury, as the head of government, and by virtue of the fact he appoints ministers and they report to him. All government departments also report to the president via their respective ministers.

"It is therefore absurd to say that the president would be engaged in a struggle to control a government department that he already controls, and also when he actually controls the whole of government," said Ngqulunga.

The Presidency called on "information peddlers" to stop spreading what it called false rumours and to give the country the space to focus on uniting the nation behind the goals of reigniting growth in order to preserve and create jobs in the current difficult economic climate.

The Sunday Times reported two weeks ago that the Hawks wanted Gordhan and eight others charged for alleged illicit intelligence gathering and spying on taxpayers during his time as Sars commissioner between 1999 and 2009. 

A so-called "rogue unit" within Sars was allegedly responsible for this. The Hawks and NPA were reportedly waiting for "political go-ahead" before arresting him, the paper reported.

In December last year, Zuma replaced respected finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with ANC backbencher David van Rooyen. Following a public outcry, Zuma replaced Van Rooyen with Gordhan and made Van Rooyen co-operative governance minister.

Insiders had said that ANC leaders had given Gordhan a mandate to do whatever needed to be done to prevent South Africa from being downgraded to junk status.

In February it was reported that Gordhan had told Zuma shortly before his Budget speech that he would resign if he did not remove Sars commissioner Tom Moyane, as he could not work with him. 

Later that same month, Zuma told reporters that Van Rooyen was the most qualified finance minister he had ever appointed, prompting speculation of tension between Zuma and Gordhan.

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