The Jesuit Institute South Africa is seriously concerned with, what appears to be, the continued harassment by the HAWKS of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Pravin Gordhan. This harassment, which by all accounts has no legitimacy or credibility, has serious consequences for the country. The fall of the local currency on Tuesday/Wednesday is indicative of the economic consequences for an already struggling economy.

It is well known that Mr. Gordhan, together with business in South Africa, has worked tirelessly to avert a ratings downgrade for the country. If this disturbing attack on Mr. Gordhan by the HAWKS continues, a ratings downgrade will become a reality and it will have devastating consequences for South Africa – especially the poorest of the poor.

The HAWKS are rapidly losing any credibility they may have had as an impartial and trustworthy law enforcement agency. They are ignoring the much more credible allegations against British American Tobacco. There is no legal basis for charging Mr. Gordhan, the motive is, clearly, political. Just a few months ago the compromised HAWKS head, Berning Ntlemeza, assured Mr. Gordhan that he was not being investigated. What has changed or was Ntlemeza not telling the truth?

Furthermore, in the latest developments the HAWKS have reinforced the impression that they are being used as political proxies by President Zuma and/or those connected to the President in their battle for unrestricted access to state funds, particularly in connection to the nuclear procurement deal and South African Airways. If there is cause for concern, and Mr. Gordhan needs to be investigated, a credible body must be tasked with doing the investigation.

It is also concerning to note, after the Finance Minister debacle in December 2015 and the damage that firing of Mr. Nene did to the economy, that President Zuma continues to allow this kind of action to be pursued. Once again President Zuma’s government displays a leadership which is self-serving. It does not care about the common good. To step in now, Mr. President, and end this racket and put the country’s struggling economy first, may be your last opportunity to show that you are concerned about the common good.

If the case against Mr. Gordhan is proved to be malicious, as evidence suggests, then the individuals at the HAWKS who are responsible for this, and those who ordered them, must be held personally liable and accountable for their actions.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Fr. Anthony Egan, SJ – +27 938 4553
Political Analyst/Ethicist

Fr. Russell Pollitt, SJ – +27 82 737 2054
Director