Mantashe climbs into Des van Rooyen over Sars Wars

Cape Town – Local government minister Des van Rooyen was criticised by the African National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday for his negative utterances against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the Mkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) should not enter the fray regarding the Hawks Sars probe, which has caused market uncertainty and seen the rand lose over R1/$ in the last two weeks, declining from around R13.30 to R14.43. 

"They contribute to the cacophony of noise, which promotes general confusion, and the perception of a politically motivated persecution," he said on Tuesday.

Mantashe said that for the MKMVA to choose Van Rooyen to speak out on the matter was a terrible choice.

He was referring to comments Van Rooyen made as MKMVA treasurer on Monday, where he accused Gordhan of galvanising the media to garner sympathy from other people.

“If you are given an opportunity to respond through state institutions, why then run to media and give responses to the media,” Van Rooyen said, according to eNCA.

“To take the matter - which is supposed to be processed within appropriately established state institutions - to the public, … is not necessarily how we should be handling this matter.”

He said the MKMVA was “not comfortable with the linkage of the president to this investigation”.

“These investigations were instituted independently by Sars (SA Revenue Service) under the leadership of National Treasury,” he said. “So it can’t be correct that all of a sudden it is the president who must carry the blame as if he started this investigation.”

For full coverage of the Sars Wars, click here.

Mantashe: MKMVA causing confusion

Mantashe said "government has a responsibility to safeguard the economy by dealing with this matter away from the public glare".

"The ANC echoes the sentiments expressed by both the president and deputy president of the Republic of South Africa on the undesirability of clusters of government seemingly being 'at war' with themselves.

"The continued speculation and the public spectacle that has resulted from the Hawks’ investigation into the so-called “spy unit” at the South African Revenue Services (SARS) is hurting the economy and could be dealt with better.

"The ANC reaffirms its unreserved confidence in ... Gordhan and the work of the National Treasury. We do however caution them against taking a public posture that seems to isolate them from the rest of government and position them as victims to be protected by society.

"Our position remains unchanged; all parties to the dispute are encouraged to cooperate in the investigation. This matter serves no one by being debated in the public domain," he said.

MKMVA leader linked to Guptas slams Gordhan

At the same briefing on Monday, MKMVA leader Kebby Maphatsoe said “there was a statement that he (Gordhan) made that people should rise up to defend him, because there are people who are about to loot the money of the people.

"And that shows you that this is a person who's running away from something and is trying to get something to protect him.”

This is the same person former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor accused of pocketing R10m the Gupta family gave him to help anti-apartheid fighters.

“We also all know that he amassed more than R10 million from the Guptas and various sources. The money was meant for MK ex-combatants, but a large portion of those monies ended in his personal pockets,” Mentor claimed on her Facebook page in March.

Cosatu: deeply disappointed

Cosatu said on Tueday that it "is deeply disappointed” by the actions of the MKMVA leaders “of publicly condemning” Gordhan and “using their different political hats as a justification”.

“We find this insincere and distasteful because these ministers have many forums available at their disposal to internally discuss this matter and raise their views inside the ANC,” Cosatu said in a statement.

“These comrades are all ANC ministers, serving one cabinet and one organisation and do not need press conferences to engage and reconcile their positions.”

“The MKMVA leadership is continuing to propagate the same factional battles of the ANC that have eroded the overwhelming support that the ANC-led Alliance enjoyed amongst the masses of our people.

“While Cosatu remain suspicious of any vicarious adoration of one individual and also remain opposed to any attempts to create the cult of personality around Cde Pravin Gordhan; we do not think this factional driven thrash talking in the media by leaders of the MKMVA is necessary and helpful.

“Their reckless statements and actions are starting to give credence to the accusation by some that the Hawks’ investigation and pursuit of Cde Pravin Gordhan is nothing but political persecution.

“We want to remind the MKMVA that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“Cde Pravin has every right to do what he did and if we, as the Alliance, are going to proclaim ourselves the defenders of freedom, we need to defend his freedom to question and challenge the Hawks’ actions.

“The time has arrived for the ANC and its alliance partners to abandon this emerging and unsettling tendency of treating disagreements as warfare and of being ill disposed to dissent.”

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