The Democratic Alliance on Thursday called for a snap debate on what it called the political assault against finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the national treasury.
DA shadow minister of finance David Maynier said in a statement that he has sent a request to speaker of the national assembly Baleka Mbete for a debate “of public importance on what appears to be a deliberate campaign to intimidate … Gordhan and to undermine national treasury”.
He was hoping for a debate before the recess on 26 May.
Since his reappointment in December to the post he held from 2009 to 2014, Gordhan has been facing one headwind after another amid efforts to restore investor confidence and ward off a junk credit rating.
The latest came in a report of Gordhan facing imminent arrest after the Hawks handed a docket over to the National Prosecuting Authority for his involvement in the South African Revenue Service’s “rogue unit”.
In response to that, Maynier said Gordhan’s “arrest” would cause an economic earthquake, which would make “9/12” look like a minor economic tremor.
“9/12” refers to 9 December last year when President Jacob Zuma unceremoniously sacked then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, replacing him with the unknown Des van Rooyen. Van Rooyen’s appointment lasted only four days before Gordhan was recalled to his old post.
On Thursday, Maynier said the country is at a “tipping point” with economic growth collapsing, 8,9m people unemployed; and the economy in danger of a ratings downgrade.
“We cannot afford what amounts to a sustained political assault on the finance minister, and the only highly professional officials at national treasury,” said Maynier.