Business Leader of the Year Gordhan calls for justice over Sars unit

Cape Town – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan called for justice over the SA Revenue Service (Sars) investigative unit on Tuesday, which has been under investigation by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Gordhan’s plea for justice was made as he accepted the Business Leader of the Year award at the annual Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards in Sandton on Tuesday evening.

“I am not actually the rogue or the rogue unit,” he said in an eNCA-televised response to MC for the evening, comedian Nik Rabinowitz.

“There are many people who have suffered lots of jobs, damage to their families just by being labelled in a particular way.”

He mentioned former Sars officials Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg, Peter Richer and Adriaan Lackey.

“I think it is important that we do everything possible to make sure that at the end of the day justice is in fact done,” he said.

Gordhan, who Rabinowitz said had “locked up Treasury as tight as he’s locked up our hearts”, pointed to the fight against corruption.

“One of the factors that is damaging society and social cohesion and promoting … corruption and rent seeking is greed,” he said.

Gordhan said business, labour and government leaders need to build on South Africa’s social contract. “Partnership is key with labour and government,” he said. “We have moved to a stage where many of you have become activists like me.

“It will enable us to be contributors to enhancing the national interest,” he said, referring to the National Development Plan as well as “new creative partnerships” that will bring meaning in actual terms to the lives of 55 million people in SA.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan accepts the award as Sunday Times SA Business Leader of the Year.  (Photo: eNCA screengrab).

Gordhan refuses to take all the credit

Gordhan joined past winners like Christo Wiese, Johan van Zyl, Whitey Basson, Johann Rupert and Maria Ramos in receiving the illustrious award.

However, he said he did not deserve the award alone.

“I don’t see this as a personal award,” he said. “On behalf of all the people I think need the credit, I am absolutely humbled that you’ve actually gone out of your normal way of doing things and thought outside of the box.”

He said those that deserved credit were deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile as well as all the staff at Treasury.

He’s the finance minister you take home to your mom

In announcing the award, Rabinowitz said “this year’s recipient … is a man who needs a bit of good news”.

“When all of us were being captured, this man managed to avoid capture by both state and statement.

“While our last minister was just a weekend special, this one is for real,” he said, referring to Des van Rooyen who replaced former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, who was abruptly fired by President Jacob Zuma on December 9 - a move that sent markets tumbling.

“He’s the finance minister you take home to your mom, the one you put in your Facebook profile picture, the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.  

“South Africa will never be the same again,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for that drum roll: The Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year for 2016 is awarded to … Mr Pravin Gordhan.”

True to form in not accepting gifts for public appearances, when presented with Johnnie Walker whiskey, Gordhan waved his hands in the air. “No,” he said.  

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