The presidency has denied that President Jacob Zuma was stalling the financial intelligence centre (FIC) amendment bill as part of an attack on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the National Treasury.
In a statement issued on Monday, Bongani Ngqulunga, Zuma’s spokesperson, said media reports that the bill had not been signed into law as part of an attempt to “clip the independence and powers” of Gordhan and the South African Reserve Bank, were “misleading and incorrect”.
“This is a gross distortion of the facts,” Ngqulunga added, saying Zuma regularly receives objections to the signing of bills.
In this instance the objection came from the Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) under former government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi.
According to Ngqulunga, a number of bills have not been signed into law as yet, such as the expropriation bill, the private security industry regulation amendment bill and the protection of sate information bill for the exact reason that parties petitioned the president about their constitutionality.
“When the President is petitioned not to sign a bill, he has to consider the merits of such objection focusing mainly on whether the interested parties raise valid constitutional issues. It is not the first time that the President has taken time to consider a bill for similar reasons,” Ngqulunga said.
BDLive reported on Monday that Zuma was considering objections before signing the bill into law and that a discussion document was submitted suggesting that all financial transactions above a certain threshold resort under government’s security cluster instead of National Treasury.
The suggestion was allegedly from Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who had earlier issued a media statement announcing that government would institute a judicial commission of inquiry into local banks’ decision to withdraw services to the Guptas.
The presidency has since distanced itself from Zwane’s statement about the so-called judicial inquiry.