South Africa cannot afford the consequences of the ANC’s internal fight between President Jacob Zuma and finance minister Pravin Gordhan, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Monday.
“When 8,9m South Africans are jobless and then you find the minister of finance facing charges, it puts a referendum on people not being able to invest in South Africa [sic],” he told reporters on the sidelines of the signing of the electoral code of conduct in Midrand, Johannesburg.
“Regardless of what happens to Pravin Gordhan, the reality of it is, it’s an economic stagnation [and] it will mean more and more people will lose their jobs. We can’t afford that.”
This followed reports that Gordhan could be facing possible arrest because of his involvement with the South African Revenue Service’s so-called “rogue unit”.
According to the Sunday Times, the Hawks wanted Gordhan and eight others to be charged with espionage, for spying on taxpayers during his time as Sars commissioner.
Sources at both the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) reportedly claimed that authorities were waiting for “political go-ahead” before going through with the arrest.
The Hawks on Sunday would not comment on the matter. Spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi referred questions to the presidency.
The presidency dismissed the report, saying it was clearly the “work of dangerous information peddlers who wish to cause confusion and mayhem in the country”.
The NPA denied that it had received a docket from the Hawks for a decision on whether to prosecute Gordhan.
“As far as the so-called rogue unit matter is concerned, which is [being] investigated by the Hawks, our prosecutors are actually guiding that investigation,” NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said on Sunday.
Maimane on Monday said the DA was seeking clarity from national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams on whether the NPA was pursuing the alleged charges and what the nature of them were.
“Ultimately, this matter must be dealt with against the backdrop that South Africa is always at risk of being downgraded which will make our economic conditions worse.
“We can’t afford this internal fight in the ANC between Zuma and Gordhan.”
Economic Freedom Fighters treasurer-general Magdalene Moonsamy would not comment on the reports.
“Let’s leave speculation to what it is. When the EFF decides to [give a] formal response, that is how we will be able to take that issue.”
However, she made reference to comments made by Zuma at the ANC Gauteng’s provincial general council (PGC) on Friday night.
While addressing the PGC in Pretoria, Zuma told the council that South Africa was “the only country in the world that the majority do not control the economy”.
Moonsamy said this showed “his lack of ability to lead the state, its finances and the economy”.
“To make such an admission is indeed a concern for us as a nation. To know there is an admission of state capture and failure by the ruling party,” she said.
During the PGC, Zuma denied that there was such a thing as “state capture”.