UPDATE: ​Des van Rooyen says Gordhan is ‘undermining’ the Hawks. Mantashe responds

UPDATE: At an ANC national working committee press briefing on Tuesday, Gwede Mantashe had some choice words for the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) treasurer-general and local government minister Des van Rooyen. Mantashe was responding to Van Rooyen’s comments in relation to the Hawks and Gordhan saga, calling his decision to speak ‘terrible’ and ‘unfortunate’. Mantashe also said the veterans group would regret it in  hindsight.

Local government minister Des van Rooyen has described  finance minister Pravin Gordhan‘s decision to not meet the Hawks as ‘undermining’ the specialised investigations unit. Van Rooyen has defended the conduct of the Hawks in asking Gordhan to present himself for questioning at their head office in Tshwane.

On Monday, Van Rooyen who is also the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) treasurer-general, accused Pravin Gordhan of trying to elicit sympathy from the media by going public with his refusal to present himself to the Hawks. Van Rooyen was finance minister for four days in December 2015 before being unceremoniously removed and replaced by Gordhan.

The veterans association held a press briefing to express its views on the tenuous relations between the minister and the Hawks. The investigation unit identified Gordhan and three other Sars officials as suspects in the investigation of the now defunct Sars ‘rogue unit’.

The four were instructed to present themselves at the Hawks headquarters in Tshwane last week but the finance minister declined through his legal representation maintaining he was under no legal obligation to do so.

“What we are arguing here is that, if you are given an opportunity to respond through state institutions, why then run to the media and give responses through the media? That is in our take, trying to take the matter which is supposed to be processed within appropriately established state institutions to the public,” Van Rooyen said.

Van Rooyen distanced President Jacob Zuma from the ignominy between the minister and the Hawks saying, it has nothing to do with the president. “We are not comfortable with the linkage of the president to this investigation.”

MKMVA chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe pledged his support for the Hawks, saying there is a well-orchestrated and deliberate attack on the Hawks. This comes in the wake of unverified reports the Hawks have allegedly handed over a docket for the prosecution of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

“The Hawks is but one of those institutions created by an act of parliament to enforce the law,” Maphatsoe told journalists at Luthuli House on Monday night. “Why then is the Hawks not being given the same affection, protection and support in the latest investigation? Is it because it is investigating the finance minister, among other persons?”

Other groups including the ANC Youth and Women’s leagues also disparaged Gordhan, saying he disrespects state institutions.

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Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.

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