Trevor Manuel warns: Arrest of Gordhan will 'destroy this economy'

Former finance minister, Trevor Manuel, has come to the defence of the current minister, Pravin Gordhan, saying it is ridiculous that an 'acting' head of the Hawks is persecuting him on baseless charges.
Speaking on eNCA, Manuel warned that should Gordhan be arrested, the effect would be catastrophic - far worse than the damage done by the firing of Nlhanlha Nene in December last year.
"It will do much more damage.
"To go back to that is really to scream fire in a crowded theatre. Such action will destroy this economy.
"The next move is up to the head of state to say: If you have any evidence, let's handle this in a responsible way," he said.
Manuel said he agreed with Gordhan's decision not to report to the Hawks as demanded. "He's had sound legal advice."


Gordhan to Hawks: I will not be reporting to you as demanded

The finance minister, Pravin Gordhan has just issued a statement making it clear that he will NOT be reporting to the Hawks as requested.
"I am advised that my conduct was at all times entirely lawful. I will however not address matters of law because I have requested my attorneys to do so."
Gordhan's statement included an exposition of his defence against allegations that his establishment of the 'rogue unit' was illegal.
He said: "I firmly believed at all times that the establishment of the Unit was an entirely lawful extension of SARS's long-standing capacity to investigate tax-related crime."
He finished with the comment: "I have nothing further to say in relation to these matters. If the Hawks however require any further assistance in good faith, I would be happy to assist."

It's time to draw a line in the sand on Zuma's state capture
Only in South Africa would 21 leading economists from universities write an open letter asking the president to desist from persecuting his finance minister. That this is what happened this afternoon should in itself ring alarm bells.
The economists did not mince their words, saying: "We urge the President, the Cabinet and the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC to assist in bringing this dangerous set of events to an end in the best way possible in the interests of our country and our economy. It is time for real leaders in the NEC and the Cabinet and in the SACP and COSATU to stand up to the tyrannical and despotic behaviour on display here because yet again we stand on the edge of an economic precipice."
Strong stuff (you can read the whole thing here) coming from normally mild-mannered economists.
What is apparent to all but the most blinkered observer is that Zuma is making a grab for the treasury because Gordhan has had the temerity to suggest his pal at SAA, Dudu Myeni, and her crony caravan be fired and that the Denel partnership with the Guptas not be sanctioned. Not to mention that the nuclear deal not go ahead until a proper funding model is found.
Zuma has now become so brazen in his methods that the Hawks - now reporting directly to his sycophantic police minister - moved on Gordhan a day after he announced that the presidency would from now on be overseeing these state-owned enterprises.
This after Gordhan has worked tirelessly for eight months to undo the damage of the December catastrophe (Zuma's firing of Nhlanhla Nene) staving off two ratings downgrades and rebuilding fragile investor confidence.
If the ANC wanted to stop this, it could. But it seems hell-bent on protecting Zuma and losing voters. Not even naked self-interest can move them to act against Zuma.

Zuma singles out one ANC mayor for congratulations in official statement - Weird
Nothing better encapsulates the narrow selfishness of the Jacob Zuma presidency than the statement issued today congratulating Mzwandile Masina on his election as mayor of Ekurhuleni.
Here is part of it:
President Jacob Zuma has congratulated Mr Mzwandile Collin Masina, the former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, following his election yesterday as the Executive Mayor of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.
The President has wished Mr Masina success in further steering the Ekurhuleni Metro Municipality towards sustainable development for all, building on the good work done by the former Executive Mayor, Mr Mondli Gungubele.

Masina's achievement seems to be that he was an ANC candidate in a tightly-fought metro as no such congratulations were issued for the new DA mayor of Johannesburg, the country's biggest city, the day before. Or the new DA mayor of the country's capital, Tshwane, a few days before that.
Does he not understand that as president of the country, he should not issue a narrow party-political statement from his official office? Such congratulations ought to have come from the party office.


Meanwhile, Hlaudi Motsoeneng tells parliament to get stuffed

After several weeks of quiet, the Hlaudi Motsoeneng noise is back again. On Tuesday, he and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, appeared before parliament's communications committee.
What followed was vintage Motsoeneng. The committee had agreed in principle to a parliamentary enquiry into the SABC, according to The Times. But - surprise, surprise, the ANC's MPs were whipped into line and the inquiry was dismissed, emboldening Motsoeneng, who then accused the MPs of not being honourable.
This from the story:
"[They] are not adhering to the oath that they have taken especially honourable member here of the DA [Phumzile van Damme]. How are we going to respect this committee? You should also be honourable. Some members are not honourable in this case," said Motsoeneng, before being ordered to retract his statement by Committee Chairman Humphrey Maxegwana.
Motsoeneng asked: "Why should I account to you when you don't give us money?"
He said some political parties "collude with certain print media and certain commercial broadcasters. We are aware."


Zuma in a race against time to unlock the treasury

President Jacob Zuma, his position protected by the ANC leadership despite the severe damage he has done to the party - an eight percentage point decline in the vote and the loss of Tshwane, Joburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and other metros - is now dusting off his state capture plan.
Following the disastrous 'Zuma effect' on the election, Zuma knows the chances of him swinging a third term as ANC president are now slim. His supporters within the party would have to choose between losing political ground and the patronage that comes with that and dumping Zuma to stay in power. They will choose the latter although they will seek to replace him with someone smarter but with the same agenda.
This gives Zuma a mere two years within which to complete the state capture project. He has to act now as the political climate within the party is going  become rougher going forward.
The immediate goal of the project is to remove the remaining obstacles in the way of his crony empire (his family, the Guptas and the 'premier league' within the ANC) taking full control of state-owned enterprises and the treasury.
This week he made two moves. The first was to remove from his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and the treasury, oversight of state-owned enterprises. The finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, has been a particularly resilient obstacle to state capture. He has refused to sign off on the Gupta deal with Denel, he has called for a new SAA board implying the removal of Zuma's friend Dudu Myeni as chairperson and he has flown about the world vowing to tighten up state expenditure. The cheek of it!
Zuma has reached the point where he must remove Gordhan or watch his state capture plan fade along with his power and influence.
And so, the second move is underway: The arrest, trial and discrediting of Gordhan so that he can place his man in charge. Rumours are already swirling in financial circles that the new finance minister will be Eskom boss Brian Molefe, who has openly said he will do business with the Guptas.
Molefe's elevation would be unsurprising. Zuma has learned from bitter experience. His attempt to place a junior pawn in the ministry in December backfired spectacularly when he was strong-armed into appointing Gordhan to save the country from disaster.
He knows that he needs to find an 'acceptable face' for the job. Molefe, who enjoys a high profile, is his best bet.