/ 12 October 2016

Ahmed Kathrada to back Gordhan up in court

Legislation about racism will help weed out overt racism but that alone is not enough
Legislation about racism will help weed out overt racism but that alone is not enough

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will be supported by anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada when he appears in court and has called on South Africans to show up en masse.

He is expected to be joined by members of the Kathrada Foundation board including former President Kgalema Motlanthe, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, struggle stalwarts Laloo Chiba, Sophie Williams-de Bruyn, Max Sisulu and others.

The former Rivonia trialist and Robben Island political prisoner said his show of solidarity with Gordhan was because of what the minister represented — clean governance, economic stability and ethical leadership.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday charged Gordhan, former South African Revenue Service commissioner Oupa Magashula and his then deputy, Ivan Pillay, with fraud for awarding a R1.1-million early retirement package to Pillay.

The trio are expected to appear in the Pretoria Regional Court on November 2.

Since the announcement of the charges, President Jacob Zuma has come out in support of Gordhan.

While noting this commitment, the Kathrada Foundation was wary of its endurance.

“This commitment will, however, be tested by not removing the minister from his post, enabling him to deliver the budget statement and letting him continue with his task of building investor confidence in South Africa. 

“Anything different to this will make a mockery of any expression of confidence in the minister by the president and the ruling party of South Africa,” said the foundation’s director, Neeshan Balton.

Shortly after NPA chief Shaun Abrahams’ announcement of the charges, Gordhan responded by questioning the motive and timing of the action. 

The minister is due to announce his mid-term budget speech and has recently returned from a trip to the US, where he held a meeting with ratings agencies and business to avert a credit downgrade. Gordhan  insisted he would not step down.

The foundation said they saw the charges “as nothing more than an attempt to lay the foundation for the removal of Gordhan from the post of finance minister”.

“Decent and democratic-minded South Africans will not allow economic instability to prevail and they should not allow Gordhan to be put under pressure to resign,” said Balton.