Jesuit Institute South Africa “seriously concerned” with Harassment of Finance Minister

Jesuit Institute South Africa “seriously concerned” with Harassment of Finance Minister

CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 25 August 2016

jesuit frs in safrica on finance minister harassing 2016The leadership of the Jesuit Institute South Africa is expressing serious concerns with South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), popularly known as the HAWKS, over the move to interrogate the Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on corruption allegations.

In a statement dated Thursday, August 25, Jesuit Fathers Anthony Egan and Russell Pollitt describe the summoning of Mr. Gordhan by the HAWKS as “harassment, which by all accounts has no legitimacy or credibility.”

The HAWKS target organized crime, economic crime, corruption, as well as any other serious crime, which the national President or the South African Police Service (SAPS) may refer to the Directorate.

The HAWKS claim that in his capacity as Finance Minister, Mr. Gordhan made questionable approvals and facilitated the creation of structures within the South African Revenue Service (SARS), “which gathered, collected, evaluated, correlated intelligence contrary to section 3 of the National Strategic Intelligence Act 39 of 1994.”

The Jesuit Fathers state, “There is no legal basis for charging Mr. Gordhan, the motive is, clearly, political” and add, “in the latest developments the HAWKS have reinforced the impression that they are being used as political proxies by President Zuma and/or those connected to the President in their battle for unrestricted access to state funds.”

Meanwhile, In a statement dated Wednesday, August 24, South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan confirms receiving a letter from the HAWKS “requesting that I present myself at their offices on 25 August 2016, at 14h00 in order that a warning statement may be obtained from me.”

In the same statement, Mr. Gordhan declines submitting to DPCI and states, “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 bonafide investigation as stated in my statement.”

“I have provided a comprehensive account of matters which the HAWKS had raised in their 27 questions on 18 May 2016,” Mr. Gordhan states.

He also adds, “I have a job to do in a difficult economic environment and serve South Africa as best I can. Let me do my job.”

The letter from the HAWKS makes particular reference to the investigation about “contravention of public finance management Act, 1999, prevention of the corrupt activities Act, 2004 and contravention of national strategic intelligence Act, 1994, et al: Brooklyn CAS 427/5/2015.”

“If the case against Mr. Gordhan is proved to be malicious, as evidence suggests, then the individuals at the HAWKS who are responsible for this, and those who ordered them, must be held personally liable and accountable for their actions,” the Jesuit Fathers conclude in their statement.

Below is the full text of South Africa’s Jesuit Institute statement; contacts of authors of the statement are further below

STATEMENT ON THE HAWKS AND THEIR PURSUIT OF FINANCE MINISTER, MR PRAVIN GORDHAN

25 August 2016

The Jesuit Institute South Africa is seriously concerned with, what appears to be, the continued harassment by the HAWKS of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Pravin Gordhan. This harassment, which by all accounts has no legitimacy or credibility, has serious consequences for the country. The fall of the local currency on Tuesday/Wednesday is indicative of the economic consequences for an already struggling economy.  

It is well known that Mr. Gordhan, together with business in South Africa, has worked tirelessly to avert a ratings downgrade for the country. If this disturbing attack on Mr. Gordhan by the HAWKS continues, a ratings downgrade will become a reality and it will have devastating consequences for South Africa – especially the poorest of the poor.  

The HAWKS are rapidly losing any credibility they may have had as an impartial and trustworthy law enforcement agency. They are ignoring the much more credible allegations against British American Tobacco. There is no legal basis for charging Mr. Gordhan, the motive is, clearly, political. Just a few months ago the compromised HAWKS head, Berning Ntlemeza, assured Mr. Gordhan that he was not being investigated. What has changed or was Ntlemeza not telling the truth? 

Furthermore, in the latest developments the HAWKS have reinforced the impression that they are being used as political proxies by President Zuma and/or those connected to the President in their battle for unrestricted access to state funds, particularly in connection to the nuclear procurement deal and South African Airways. If there is cause for concern, and Mr. Gordhan needs to be investigated, a credible body must be tasked with doing the investigation. 

It is also concerning to note, after the Finance Minister debacle in December 2015 and the damage that firing of Mr. Nene did to the economy, that President Zuma continues to allow this kind of action to be pursued. Once again President Zuma’s government displays a leadership which is self-serving. It does not care about the common good. To step in now, Mr. President, and end this racket and put the country’s struggling economy first, may be your last opportunity to show that you are concerned about the common good.

If the case against Mr. Gordhan is proved to be malicious, as evidence suggests, then the individuals at the HAWKS who are responsible for this, and those who ordered them, must be held personally liable and accountable for their actions.

For further information please contact:

Fr. Anthony Egan, SJ

Political Analyst/Social Ethicist

+ 27 72 938 4553 OR a.egan@jesuitinstitute.org.za

 Fr. Russell Pollitt, SJ

Jesuit Institute Director

+ 27 82 737 2054 OR r.pollitt@jesuitinstitute.org.za

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