The Gordhan/Hawks Spat Hits SA Rand; McBride Says ‘Watch Your back’


The suspended police watchdog boss Robert McBride has warned Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to be “careful” with the way he deals with the the elite police unit, the Hawks.

The intensified heat between Gordhan and the Hawks who have proposed to stage a war against the finance minister for failing to answer its questions is said to be greatly affecting the country’s economy especially as the rand gets hit again by major currencies last week.

To this, McBride said for the fact that he was being charged for doing his work, Pravin could face the same hence he must be careful while handling the situation.

McBride said this a while after he and two others appeared before the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice yesterday. He was accused of covering up the role of former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat in the illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans.

McBrider said said the country’s law enforcement agencies were being manipulated and politically compromised.

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“There is a conspiracy. The decision to move Dramat was taken long before Dramat was even issued with the notice [of suspension]. People knew who was going to be appointed to his position before that,” he added.

The Squabbles between the office of the finance minister and that of the Police has been referred to as one of the undermining factors to the fall of the Rand and experts say this should not take place at a time the country is undergoing economic ratings by the credit rating agency Moody’s.

Moody’s arrived the country in order to decide whether SA’s sovereign rating will be downgraded to junk and had put the nation on review last week for a possible downgrade.

The chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC)’s Economic Transformation Commission Enoch Godongwana opined that the Hawks ought to have managed the situation differently.

“The timing of giving Gordhan 27 questions to answer, with the combined playing in the public space is not helpful to the economy at all,” he added.

More to this, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe who was at the moment reluctant to answer questions said he wished the issue was dealt with in a professional way. “It’s a cause for concern, the chances are high that Gordhan may not stay in his job,” Shadreck Gutto, a constitutional law lecturer at the University of South Africa added.

While the Rand continues to be unstable, investors are careful not to fall victim of another crash of the rand and bonds which occurred when President Zuma changed the finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The rand traded at R15.9468 to the dollar from R15.9259 at Tuesday’s close. It was at R17.6968 against the euro from R17.6878 and at R22.5272 against the pound from R22.5397.

“While the current political wrangling continues to dominate headlines, uncertainty regarding the rand will remain entrenched,” Nedbank said in a market note showing their concern over the public fall out.

“Investors can’t risk hanging on to the rand – with an idea hanging – that the finance minister will be fired anytime. As a result of that, investors consider the rand as a risk asset,” said Makwe Masilela, a portfolio manager at BP Bernstein told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

If Gordhan is fired that could spell doom for an economy threatened with recession and on the brink of having its credit rating downgraded to junk, he added.

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