'Power-hungry Zuma' behind Gordhan's summons - analyst | Fin24
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'Power-hungry Zuma' behind Gordhan's summons - analyst

Oct 12 2016 15:52
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – The recent developments in the Hawks probe into Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan signal President Jacob Zuma’s final attempts to hold onto power, amid dwindling public popularity.

This is according to Coenraad Bezuidenhout, managing director of public affairs at FTI Consulting. In a statement Bezuidenhout explained that the purpose of issuing a summons to Gordhan is politically motivated.

“Going forward, President Zuma’s political influence is unlikely to recover to the extent that he may effect cabinet changes or significant economic policy, spending or financing changes in government without severe political consequences for himself,” he said.

The president is having to balance commitments to other parties, including the Gupta family, while facing a “crumbling” support base within the ANC and upcoming political and economic deadlines.

This includes the 2017/2018 budget which will impact the financing and procurement decisions of SOEs. Zuma may also possibly face further corruption and state capture charges, and his possible removal from office following the ANC elective conference next year, stated Bezuidenhout.

Impact on future events

Bezuidenhout said it was unlikely that the mini budget, would be impacted. It is also unlikely that the charges of corruption and theft against Gordhan will hold up in court.

Escalations in public sentiment against Zuma are likely to translate into public protests, continuing on campuses and in the capital. It is possible that the rising factions against Zuma in the ANC will lead to succession campaigning for more “rational policy platforms” in future.

He added that a credit rating downgrade would not materialise provided that Gordhan remained in his position and that market expectations are met in the mini budget and other policies ahead of 2 December when ratings agencies make their decisions.

Legislation currently in progress may not necessarily be discarded or delayed, except for the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill.

The Presidency responds

Zuma, who is currently in Kenya, reaffirmed his support to Gordhan, despite the fact that the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) decision came at a "sensitive" time for the country. Gordhan had recently returned from a trip to New York, where he and other business leaders worked to boost investor confidence in the country.

Zuma added that the NPA is to carry out their work with dignity and respect. “Our society is anchored on the rule of law as well as fair and just judicial processes. In this regard, Minister Gordhan is innocent until and unless proven otherwise by a court of law. This is a fundamental pillar of our constitutional democracy and the rule of law," he stated.

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