Gordhan slams ‘distracting’ Hawks letter

iol news pic Gordhan Budget 2016 feb24 REUTERS Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers his 2016 budget address to Parliament in Cape Town. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has slammed questions sent to him by the Hawks over an alleged “rogue” unit at SARS as an attempt to “intimidate and distract” him.

In a statement following reports on the questions sent to him in a letter last Thursday, Gordhan said there was “a group of people” who were not interested in the economic stability of the country and welfare of its people but instead were bent on “disrupting institutions and destroying reputations”.

He said he had been warned in the letter seeking answers to three pages of questions not to interfere with state witnesses, without being told who they were.

Read: Row between Treasury and Sars intensifies

“I believe this was meant to intimidate and distract us from the work we had to do in preparing the 2016 Budget,” Gordhan said.

Referring to a statement issued by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe earlier, he said he was “grateful for the support I have now received from the ANC and its determination to ensure that vital state institutions such as the Treasury and the SA Revenue Service are not adversely affected by the kind of actions we’ve seen in the last week”.

While he had kept quiet about the letter to safeguard the Budget process, it had been leaked immediately after the tabling of the Budget, along with “misinformation” about his briefing of the ANC caucus on the Budget.

He denied making any reference to the SARS matter during his address to the ANC caucus on Thursday, following reports he had told ANC MPs of an ultimatum he purportedly gave President Jacob Zuma that either he or SARS commissioner Tom Moyane would have to go.

Also read: Mantashe backs Gordhan in SARS spat

Gordhan reiterated that the unit in question had been lawfully established and operated within the SARS legal and policy framework.

“I can categorically state that the Hawks have no reason to ‘investigate’ me,” Gordhan said.

Earlier, Zuma also issued a statement saying he had full confidence in Gordhan, but he appeared to take issue with the idea that there was a conspiracy against him, calling this “rumours and gossip”.

Political Bureau

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