The Pravin Gordhan Summons: No Room for Error
11 October 2016
We note that the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, has been summoned to appear before the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on 2 November 2016 to face two charges:
1. A charge of fraud, or alternatively a charge of theft, in relation to a payment to Ivan Pillay in respect of Mr Pillay’s early retirement
2. A charge of fraud in respect of a four year contract for the further employment of Mr Pillay.
Mr Pillay and Mr Oupa Magashula, former Head of SARS, are accused of the same or similar charges in the same case.
The Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, is reported as having urged that nothing must be done to cause problems or difficulties in state institutions such as the Treasury, or to damage our economic future. We agree with him. One implication is that Mr Gordhan should not be removed from his office on the grounds of the accusation against him. A second implication is that, if the charges are found to be without merit, the National Prosecuting Authority will have damaged the economy for no good reason. As in the case of the dismissal of Minister Nene in December 2015, the reaction to the accusation of Mr Gordhan has been an immediate depreciation of the rand. Further decline in domestic and foreign confidence in a weak South African economy will follow.
The accusation against Mr Gordhan takes place against the backdrop of a wider crisis of governance in South Africa. Alertness to the quality of our constitutional democracy, always important, is essential at present.
Issued by Piet Olivier, HSF, 11 October 2016