South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, 2014. Photo: Schalk van Zuydam/AP
The South African rand remained on edge on Monday, touching a four weeks low against the dollar, amid concerns that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan could be arrested.
Gordhan, failed to present himself to the police at the last week after receiving summonses from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks). The rand shed 3 percent against the dollar and weakened against the Euro and Pound as fears mounted that the minister will be arrested following the refusal.
The elite police unit summoned Gordhan over allegations that he illegally formed an investigative unit within the South African Revenue Service (SARS) during his reign in 2007.
Gordhan was summoned alongside Ivan Pillay (former Deputy Commissioner at SARS) Johan van Loggerenberg (former SARS executive), Oupa Magashula (former SARS commissioner) and Andrieas van Rensburg (former head of the investigative unit), DAILY MAVERICK reported.
Gordhan failed to honor the police orders, claiming that the claims were malicious and that he had responded to all their questions in a 27-question dossier that the Hawks sent him in May, this year.
“I am advised that I am under no legal obligation to present myself to the Hawks as directed in their letter,” read a media statementfrom Gordhan issued on Wednesday.
He added that he will not present himself to the police unit based on other considerations, both legal and other commitments, but remained committed to assist the Hawks in any other legal investigations.
City press reported that Gordhan could be arrested within the next two weeks by the Hawks in a case steeped with allegations of political infighting in the ruling ANC party.
The finance minister appealed to be allowed to oversee his ministerial duties in an environment that he described as ‘difficult economically.’
“I have a duty to do in a difficult economic environment and serve South Africa as best as I can. Let me do my job,” Gordhan said.
Economic analysts said that the police orders are part of plot to remove the minister, adding that his decision to ignore the summons will further rock an already fragile market in Africa’s second biggest economy, Reuters reported.
Gordhan has faced turbulent times since February this year when he started plans to drastically cut government’s spending, key among them a proposed $60 billion nuclear project which cost his predecessor, Nhlanhla Nene his job in December last year.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader dismissed the police orders against Gordhan as witch-hunt, describing them as attempts by President Jacob Zuma to capture the Treasury.
He called on the National Assembly to debate the recent happenings and hold the executive to account.
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