The economic Freedom fighters (EFF) have reacted to finance minister’s refusal to honour Hawks invitation in order to obtain a warning statement from him. The party also said the minister’s refusal is an act of disrespect to the office.
Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday, announced his refusal to honour Hawks invitation, claiming he is under no legal obligation to present himself to the Hawks on Thursday, and as such, will give it a skip.
Having confirmed receiving a letter from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (“the Hawks”) requesting that he presents himself at their offices on 25 August 2016, at 14h00, the minister highlighted reasons backing his refusal to honour the letter.
First, he said is the letter from the Hawks head General Ntlemeza, dated May 20, 2016, where he informed him (Pravin) that he was not a suspect in the Hawks’ investigation. Second was that he had fully answered Hawks 27 questions; and third, that his legal team said Hawks call was unfounded.
Minister Gordhan stated:
“I therefore, do not intend to present myself for a warning statement for many considerations, both legal and given my other commitments. I remain committed to assist the Hawks in any bona fide investigation as stated in my statement.
“I have a job to do in a difficult economic environment and serve South Africa as best I can. Let me do my job.”
Reacting to the minister’s decision, the EFF called on him to have a rethink, saying his refusal will be to “act with the same disrespect” shown by President Jacob Zuma and his “faction” of the state.
“If he is innocent‚ which we believe he is‚ there is nothing the Hawks can do‚” EFF national spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.
Ndlozi added that Gordhan Pravin’s decision could be interpreted to mean that he is above the law.
“The last thing we need is anyone being treated as if they are above the law. At all times‚ we ought to respect institutions of the state and uphold them above individuals who may be at their helm.”
The EFF said the “unrelenting pursuit of criminalising” Gordhan did not justify not cooperating with the Hawks.
While the EFF advice the minister to report to the Hawks office, ANC’s strongest opposition, the DA, believes that the minister’s call is part of president Jacob Zuma’s intention to take hold of the treasury.
DA’s mayor in Johannesburg Herman Mashaba said he trusted and believed in Gordhan’s ability to withstand the challenges he is currently facing. However, he called on Zuma to explain why the Hawks are focusing on Finance Minister in this matter.
“The president, the government, owe it to the people of South Africa to take us into their confidence, to tell us what is really happening here. Something is not right. They are not doing our country a favour.”
The minister at the moment still maintains he would not report himself to the hawks office but assured the department that he would assist them in any “bone fide” investigation required.