Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is receiving heavyweight support in his battle with the Hawks continues. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has broken his silence on the matter, and pledged his full and total support to Gordhan, saying his honour is unquestionable. Ramaphosa’s firm statement, and call for government to stop waging war against itself, contrasts president Jacob Zuma’s airy expression of “full confidence” in the minster, followed by a shrug, saying he has no power to stop the investigation.
- The three other former SARS officials who reported to the Hawks have made warning statements, though have reportedly not been charged, nor given any date to appear in court. The group’s lawyer has stated that the allegations put forward by the Hawks are false, but no further comment on the matter has been given. Like Gordhan, the other SARS officials have received support from civil rights groups and society at large.
- The tax ombudsman has warned that South Africans will push a tax revolt if they feel that their tax money is being wasted by government, MoneyWeb reports. The ombud’s comment came amid an apparent ‘war’ between Pravin Gordhan and the Hawks, which is believed to be politically motivated. He said ethical spending was vital for a country’s tax processes to work.
- South Africa’s rand weakened further to a one-month low on Thursday, weighed down by lingering uncertainty over whether the finance minister faces arrest. On Friday, the rand pushed lower trading at R14.21 to the dollar, R18.76 to the pound and R16.05 to the euro as the Hawks vs Gordhan discussion would not dissipate.
- Oil prices dipped in early trading on Friday after the Saudi energy minister tempered expectations of strong market intervention by producers during talks next month. With the oil price and currency rates, CEF data shows an over-recovery of 33c per litre and 59c per litre for SA petrol and diesel, respectively, pointing to a drop in September.
In global news: Asian stocks were steady on Friday with modest losses in some markets and gains in others reflecting nervousness before a keenly anticipated speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.