UPDATE: Gordhan slams Malema, EFF, says charges are 'baseless, lies and fake news'

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan testifies in the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan testifies in the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

EFF leader Julius Malema and his colleagues are running a disinformation campaign through their attacks on Pravin Gordhan, his family, journalists, the Zondo commission and anyone exposing corruption, says the department of public enterprises.

This campaign indicates the EFF's "dangerous descent" into "populism, intolerance and racism", the department also warns.

In a statement issued on Tuesday the department slammed Malema, the EFF and its deputy leader Floyd Shivambu's charges against Gordhan, minister of public enterprises, as "baseless, a set of lies, fake news and fabrications".

Malema laid various charges against Gordhan, including corruption, fraud, perjury, racketeering and money laundering and contraventions of the Intelligence Act.

The EFF also alleges that Gordhan has stashed billions of rand in a Canadian bank account. The department has dismissed the EFF's allegations, including the charge about the foreign bank account.

Also read: Gordhan slams Malema, EFF, says charges are 'baseless, lies and fake news'

The department also warns against the EFF's brand of politics: "The disinformation campaign by Messrs Malema, Shivambu and the EFF, the public attacks on Minister Gordhan, his family, the threats and attacks on journalists, the Zondo commission of inquiry and anyone fighting or exposing corruption, are signs of a dangerous descent towards populism, political intolerance, racism and an assault on our democracy."

The statement also highlights the media's role in the conflict between Gordhan and the EFF and says it should "establish and report on facts in a manner which is balanced and fair in order to inform our citizens".

The EFF's "so-called charge sheet", which contains various allegations against Gordhan and his daughter, Anisha, is nothing but an attack on efforts to reign in and combat corruption in theft in the state, the department says.

"Today’s actions by the EFF leadership are the politics of distraction. Corruption is the real enemy in South Africa. What the public should be asking those who launch these attacks are: 'What are you hiding and why are you so desperate to distract the public?'

"The content of the 'charge sheet' or 'indictment' is false, defamatory and malicious and has been disseminated publicly with the specific objective of causing injury to the reputations and integrity of Minister Gordhan and his family.

"Minister Gordhan and his family reserve their rights to pursue any civil actions for damages arising out of these malevolent and defamatory allegations," the statement says.

The department added:
- Gordhan has no bank account in Canada;
- That Gordhan did not establish a "rogue unit" in SARS and that he is supported by the interim report of the Nugent commission of inquiry into SARS; and
- Allegations about Gordhan's daughter and alleged benefits accrued from government contracts are false, as explained at the Zondo commission of inquiry.

News24 has received a copy of the EFF's charge sheet and is attempting to independently verify the allegations contained in it.

A representative of the Royal Bank of Canada has however told News24 that bank accounts with the institution can only be opened by non-citizens if they are in the process of emigrating to the country.

Gordhan's spokesperson says he is currently not in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen.

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