More to the attacks on Gordhan than meets the eye

01 September 2017 - 07:11 By The Times Editorail
Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Pravin Gordhan. File photo.

The renewed assault on former finance minister Pravin Gordhan defies credulity.

On the face of it, Gordhan poses no great political threat to his foes. He has been removed from the cabinet and consigned to the ANC's sidelines, yet the past two weeks have seen him attacked with fresh ferocity.

First, Jacob Zuma's increasingly erratic son Edward publicly heckled Gordhan at an event; then on Monday another son, Duduzane, the well-known Gupta business partner, unleashed a salvo of his own. That volley followed disclosures in parliament of about R1-billion wasted on a financial management system, with a large dollop of inference that Gordhan had something to answer for.

Then came Wednesday's news - in a widespread and clearly orchestrated leak - which implied that Gordhan was once again in the Hawks' crosshairs over the alleged activities of the fictional South African Revenue Service "rogue unit".

The script here will be obvious to even the most politically illiterate - the hounds have been unleashed against Gordhan yet again.

But why?

While Gordhan's political power may have been eroded, his moral authority remains unbowed. But in the ANC of today moral fortitude counts for nought so there has to be something more.

We can only speculate that Gordhan's continued presence within the ANC and his allegiance to those who might unseat Zuma and his acolytes poses a greater threat than is apparent to outsiders. Or could Gordhan be privy to something which might tactically explode as the critical party leadership conference draws nearer and demands his credibility be utterly destroyed before then?

There is a sense that the race has entered its dramatic final straight, but it is unclear who will be still running at the finish line.