About R35-billion lost in the value of bank stocks – that was one result of market reaction to the announcement this week that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has been charged by the National Prosecuting Authority with fraud. The rand went down against the dollar and – almost in desperation – went up again a tad when Shaun Abrahams, the national director of public prosecutions, seemed to say he would reconsider the charges under certain circumstances.
At least it showed that the eyes of people who deal in global finance and currencies are watching the movements of the power struggle between the president and his finance minister.
President Jacob Zuma versus Gordhan has been making headlines recently. He was filmed partying in Nairobi at just about the time the news broke in South Africa that, less than two weeks before Gordhan is due to deliver the mid-term budget statement, the finance minister was being charged. The alleged fraud relates to a pension issue at the South African Revenue Service (Sars) during Gordhan’s previous stint as finance minister in 2010.
Are Pres. Zuma and his supporters simply blind to how this looks, and to the effect it is likely to have on South Africa’s financial fortunes? Does he simply not care that actions such as these could leave our economy in an even worse state, just at the moment we’re hitting zero-percent growth? Does he know or care about what “junk status” is?
If not, perhaps he doesn’t know either that anyone who has been paying attention can see through the veneer of legality and the spurious assertion of independent authority constructed by Abrahams.
That so many prominent politicians and others are coming out loudly in support of Gordhan means they are not in support of what the presidency and Abrahams are trying to do to SA economy. Every citizen who cares about the future of this country should see through the anti-Gordhan plot and support him in his confrontation with the kingdom of patronage, corruption and self-enrichment.
The public protector, Thuli Madonsela, who was described as Zuma’s nemesis at the time she released the Nkandla report and stuck to her guns, was subject to a blocking manoeuvre by the presidency – it sued for an interdict to stop the release of the report into state capture. The claim is that Zuma had not had an adequate opportunity to respond, but it is clear that he did. This is simply another skirmish in the Battle of Stalingrad the president is fighting against the democratic institutions designed especially to prevent the kind of abuses of power of which he is guilty.
Once more, it seems obvious that this is part of the major state effort now underway, on the part of the security arm particularly, to protect Pres. Zuma from any hint of wrongdoing. He is vulnerable on the state-capture front because of his close relationship with the Gupta family, who have already threatened to sue the public protector if her report makes any findings against them. This makes them all look as though they have something to hide.
Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, had been charged with contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956. This also shows that they have lots to hide. As the date indicates, this is a law that dates back to the days of high apartheid – it was famously taken as the title of a satirical novel by Tom Sharpe. But clearly the Zuma state machinery doesn’t mind stepping into the shoes and applying the laws of the oppressors of yesteryear.
They were careful with the timing. They served the summons on Malema immediately after he had made public statements in support of Gordhan. Are we seeing the pattern here?