President Jacob Zuma wants Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to cooperate with Hawks in Investigating the allegations leveled against him. The president made this call after he heard the details of the case. He also dismissed claims of conspiracy against Gordhan.
The battle lines between President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister appears to be closely drawn. President Zuma, the Hawks and Moyane are on one side while Gordhan, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe on the other.
The Hawks had alleged that Gordhan and former Sars Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay were instrumental in the formation of the Sar’s rogue unit. And that Gordhan’s case relates primarily to his approval of the unit’s formation, as well as its operations, his extension of Pillay’s contract and Pillay’s early retirement settlement.
Last Friday, Hawks boss Lieutenant General Berning Ntlemeza had sent a letter to Gordhan and was given until Wednesday to hand-deliver his responses to 27 questions over his involvement in the formation of the so-called rogue unit.
Some of the questions include:
1. Does the minister have any knowledge of the disbandment of the National Research Group (NRG) in 2009 when you were the Sars commissioner, leading to the establishment of the High Risk Investigation Unit (HRIU) or the “rogue unit”?
2. Were there any inputs you gave for the establishment of the NRG or the HRIU?
3. Who were the stakeholders who would form part of the new unit?
4. Do you still remember yourself as the commissioner of Sars recommending the funding model to the then minister Trevor Manuel in February 2007 for “funding of an intelligence capability within National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in support of Sars”?
5. How were the members of the unit recruited/selected? Were Sars recruitment processes followed?
The Hawks’ investigation into the unit started after Sars commissioner Tom Moyane laid a criminal complaint at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria in May last year. Nevertheless, reports said that the Hawks are confident that they have a strong case against the minister.
However, with the clock ticking down on Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan’s deadline to answer questions from the Hawks, it’s unclear if his apparent split with President Jacob Zuma will deepen further, or if Zuma will send South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane packing.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance MP and finance spokesperson David Maynier wants the president to set up a a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the Sars crisis.
“The only option with any hope of avoiding mutually assured destruction and uncovering the truth is for a full judicial commission of inquiry to be established to investigate all allegations concerning the so-called Sars rogue unit”, Maynier said in a statement.
Irrespective of Hawks actions, Gordhan has gained massive support from some political parties and individuals. He recently gained support from The South African Communist Party (SACP).
SACP Deputy General Secretary Jeremy Cronin has lashed the Hawks for what he calls the unit’s “extraordinarily clumsy” conduct, during a media briefing over the weekend.