A senior government official has told City Press that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan ‘is not going anywhere’ because there is nothing that warrants his arrest, as previous reports have suggested.
Citing senior officials in the Hawks and the NPA, The Sunday Times reported last week that Gordhan was set to be arrested on charges of espionage, relating to the so-called “rogue spy unit” at SARS, which was set up under his watch as commissioner.
On Tuesday, Gordhan said that the entire episode had been ‘distressing’. The minister professed his innocence, claiming that he had answered all questions asked by the Hawks.
“I cannot believe that I am being investigated and could possibly be charged for something I am completely innocent of,” he said.
“The malicious rumours and accusations about ‘espionage’ activities are false and manufactured for other motives.”
The Presidency said at the time that the story was fabricated and is “the work of dangerous information peddlers who wish to cause confusion and mayhem in the country”.
Citing senior government officials, City Press reported on Sunday that there was
no imminent threat of Gordhan being arrested or removed from his post, adding that “either he is genuinely scared, or he is being mischievous”.
“He is not going anywhere. It is just paranoia on his part. There is nothing that warrants his arrest.
“He was being asked [by the Hawks] questions as a former accounting head of department that the [Sars] unit belonged to. All of us can be asked to account for departments we worked for 10 years ago,” an official told the paper.
Another official warned that Gordhan regarded himself as a “superminister who was untouchable”, which could lead to his isolation.
A deputy minister said that those threatening the finance minister were hoping that the pressure being applied to the minister would force him to step down voluntarily.
“Unfortunately, because of the backing he has, it will be difficult for him to be let go. He has a lot of backing even outside the ANC,” said the deputy minister.
Read the full article in the 22 May 2016 edition of City Press.
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