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Rand slips on Mantashe's apparent swipe at Gordhan

Aug 30 2016 19:09

Cape Town - The rand took a whack on Tuesday following ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe's comments that officials who are charged should step down from their roles.

He also stated at an ANC press briefing on the public spats between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Hawks; Eskom and Treasury; and allegations of corruption involving the ANC and Prasa, that ministers should cooperate with police and answer questions by the police unit the Hawks if summoned.

He was clearly referring to Gordhan's refusal last week to report to the Hawks' office in Pretoria to sign a warning statement for his involvement in the so-called rogue unit established when he was commissioner at the SA Revenue Service. Gordhan has repeatedly stated that he had done nothing wrong. It is believed that signing a warning statement is a precursor for arrest.

Mantashe climbed into both Gordhan and local government minister Des van Rooyen for taking the fight to the media, where opposition parties and economists have already accused President Jacob Zuma of trying to gain greater control of the National Treasury. Zuma has denied the allegation.

READ: Mantashe climbs into Des van Rooyen over Sars Wars

"The ANC reaffirms its unreserved confidence in the Minister of Finance, Comrade Pravin Gordhan and the work of the National Treasury. We do, however, caution them against taking a public posture that seems to isolate them from the rest of government and position them as victims to be protected by society," he said.

The rand, which was trading at R14.41/$ before his speech, dropped to R14.47 and by 17:30 was trading at R14.52 to the greenback.

Van Rooyen was slammed by the ANC and Cosatu for his negative utterances against Gordhan.

READ: Gordhan jitters, oil strength slam brakes on fuel price drop

Mantashe said the Mkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) should not enter the fray regarding the Hawks' Sars probe, which has caused market uncertainty and seen the rand lose over R1/$ in the last two weeks, declining from around R13.30 to R14.50. 

"They contribute to the cacophony of noise, which promotes general confusion, and the perception of a politically motivated persecution," he said on Tuesday.

Mantashe said that for the MKMVA to choose Van Rooyen to speak out on the matter was a terrible choice.

He was referring to comments Van Rooyen made as MKMVA treasurer on Monday, where he accused Gordhan of galvanising the media to garner sympathy from other people.

“If you are given an opportunity to respond through state institutions, why then run to media and give responses to the media,” Van Rooyen said, according to eNCA.

Reporting back from the ANC's National Working Committee meeting held on Monday, Mantashe said they considered the matters that have dominated public discourse in recent days.

On the allegations of impropriety at Prasa he said the ANC categorically rejects allegations that the organisation received a bribe of R80m on a contract to supply locomotives awarded to Swifambo Rail Leasing.

"The ANC calls for an investigation by the law enforcement agencies into these bribery allegations. Action must and will be taken where any conduct by the organisation or of its members is inconsistent with the rule of law and our own disciplinary code."

On the standoff between the Hawks and Gordhan he said the ANC echoes the sentiments expressed by both President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on the undesirability of clusters of government seemingly being "at war" with themselves.

The spat "is hurting the economy and could be dealt with better".

He lamented the fact that Eskom and Treasury have taken their disagreements to the public domain and called for an urgent meeting between the Ministries of Public Enterprises, Treasury and Energy to decisively deal with the matter in a manner that promotes public confidence.

ALSO READ: Eskom's IPP snub shows need for sector shake-up

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