24 August 2016
The Banking Association South Africa (BASA) is extremely concerned around the events regarding the Minister of Finance, Mr. Pravin Gordhan. We have worked closely with Minister Gordhan in the last few months and have confidence in his seriousness in promoting the national interest. However, we are also concerned that a pivotal position like the Ministry of Finance is being subjected to this type of action.
We are absolutely clear that the law must take it course and are in support of what Minister Gordhan has himself stated that no one is above the law. But we find the current events and allegations to be unacceptable.
We are highly disturbed about this ‘process’ and that there has been a leak. The leak places our national interest in danger and it is particularly concerning that this is not the first time proposed action by the Hawks against the Minister has been leaked.
BASA is fundamentally concerned with the timing hereof. We have just concluded the Municipal Elections, which has shifted and realigned the South African political landscape. The electoral process, including the performance of the IEC and the acceptance of the results by the ANC, promoted a positive message of our democracy and built confidence. This action by the Hawks reverses these gains.
According to Mr. Cas Coovadia, MD of BASA: “We should be supporting the Minister of Finance to address the social and economic issues and challenges impeding the economy in order to facilitate development and stimulate growth – instead of pulling the rug out from under him. This flies in the face of the commitment made by Government and the President, in addition to the commitment business has consistently expressed, that they support the Minister of Finance”.
This is not in the national interest and we remain deeply nervous about the impact this will have on the country and economy, which has already been demonstrated in respect of the decline of the rand in last 24 hours.
According to BASA, this was exactly what ratings agencies raised concerns about during the Minister of Finance’s recent international road show and the interactions CEO’s have had with investors and rating agencies– the volatility of the political environment and stability of the leadership of the country.
We are immensely troubled as this sends out a fundamentally damaging and negative message to ratings agencies, investors and business.
This erodes all the work the Minister of Finance, with the Deputy-President and other government departments, has undertaken in conjunction with business and labour to instil confidence in the economy, leadership and country in its ability to foster and accelerate growth.
We are gravely concerned about these events and have initiated steps to register our concerns in this regard. We urge Government and the Presidency to appropriately address and resolve this with the utmost urgency, sensitively and in accordance with the prevailing law.
According to Coovadia: “The Minister of Finance must not be attacked and the economy must not be jeopardised as a result of this”
We reiterate our support for the Minister of Finance, his commitment, the work he has undertaken and what he has been able to achieve thus far within a turbulent environment and under extreme pressure.