Gordhan: 'They will probably charge us'

Former minister of finance Pravin Gordhan. (Netwerk24)
Former minister of finance Pravin Gordhan. (Netwerk24)

Vienna - Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan said he expects to be charged over the South African Revenue Service (SARS) investigative unit set up when he was commissioner as a battle rages in the African National Congress to choose a successor to President Jacob Zuma as party leader in December.

Gordhan, who was fired by Zuma in March, made his comments on Thursday, a day after the Hawks told his predecessor at the finance ministry, Trevor Manuel, and his then-deputy, Jabu Moleketi, to provide affidavits on the creation of the tax service’s division by Friday.

“They will probably charge us, let’s see what happens,” Gordhan said at a conference in the Austrian Alpine village of Alpbach. “We’re not just sitting back and taking punches. We’re going to resist all of these things because at the end of the day it’s not about our individual futures, it’s about the future of younger generations.”

The National Prosecuting Authority has been probing the unit in an investigation that Gordhan, opposition parties and civil-society groups say is politically motivated. The former finance minister described the latest moves as an attempt to discredit politicians who oppose Zuma and are fighting against the plunder of state resources in Africa’s most-industrialised economy.

Scandals have shadowed Zuma during his eight-year presidency, including a finding by the nation’s top court that he broke his oath of office by refusing to repay taxpayer funds spent on his private home.

‘State capture’

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela accused him of allowing members of the Gupta family, who are in business with his son, to influence Cabinet appointments and the award of state contracts, referred to as state capture. Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.

On August 8 more than two dozen of African National Congress MPs backed an opposition motion of no confidence in Zuma in a secret ballot in Parliament. While he survived, the party fired Makhosi Khoza as chairperson of a portfolio committee and wrote to Derek Hanekom, the head of its disciplinary committee, rebuking him for his Twitter postings calling for the president’s removal.

The possible charges “could also be persecution and abuse of state-security organs to victimise those who said they will be guided by their conscience in the recent motion of no confidence,” Gordhan said.

He didn’t reveal how he had voted in the motion. “This was a secret ballot and remains so,” he said.

Zuma is due to step down as the ANC’s leader in December, with his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa seen as the leading contenders to replace him.

“It’s a massive tussle - it’s about the future of the ANC as we’ve known it,” Gordhan said. “Either you follow the capture of the ANC,” or change the party’s character and “recapture the state, which has now gotten into the wrong hands".

"People like ourselves are backing Mr Ramaphosa, because we believe he has the integrity, to put it bluntly. And secondly, he has the modernity to innovate, to allow new ideas to emerge, understands the economy. ”

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