Ramaphosa backs Gordhan: Let the law take its course

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Pravin Gordhan speaks during a conference at the Daily Maverick event, The Gathering, on November 23, 2017 in Johannesburg. (GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pravin Gordhan speaks during a conference at the Daily Maverick event, The Gathering, on November 23, 2017 in Johannesburg. (GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa showed his support for Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan when he told Members of Parliament that the Presidency would not be baited into shooting from the hip when it comes to officials with accusations against them

Ramaphosa was replying to the National Assembly’s debate on his budget vote, which he tabled on Wednesday afternoon. During that debate, Malema accused Gordhan of being part of what he called a "cabal" that sought to capture critical state-owned economic agencies.

Malema's address included Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's findings against Gordhan in relation to the establishment of a 'rogue' unit at the South African Revenue Service while Gordhan was commissioner.

However, Ramaphosa said the office of the Presidency would not be used as an executive hit squad to remove politicians that some MPs did not like, especially when those officials were fighting in court to clear their names.

"The Presidency cannot interfere, in any shape or form whatsoever, in the work that these institutions are doing. If you are expecting the Presidency to go out and arrest those implicated in corruption, it is not going to happen," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said all South Africans, including Members of Parliament, enjoyed equality before the law and should be allowed to defend themselves from allegations. This remark included a veiled reference to allegations against Malema involving money lost in the VBS Mutual Bank fallout.

"It is a fundamental tenet of our constitutional order that nobody is above the law. That includes the president, honourable Gordhan and honourable Malema. Every person is equal before the law and must be able to exercise their rights, including going to court," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa told MPs that even before he appointed Gordhan as a minister, he knew him to be a man of commitment and integrity.

"He has endured immense pressure to abandon principle and his commitment to the liberation of this nation," he said.

Ramaphosa and Gordhan have both filed affidavits against Mkhwebane's report.

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