Gordhan must not fall for Zuma's blunt political ploy

12 October 2016 - 10:37 By The Times Editorial


President Jacob Zuma and his close group of political backers have finally played their hand. Ever since last December, when Luthuli House cajoled Zuma to dump Desmond van Rooyen and replace him with Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, the president's backers have used threat of prosecution to put pressure on Gordhan to leave office. They did not want him in the job in the first place and believed Zuma employed him only out of panic after the markets reacted badly to his axing of then-finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and replacing him with Van Rooyen.Now that the National Prosecuting Authority has decided to prosecute Gordhan for his alleged role in the reappointment of Ivan Pillay at SARS after he had taken early retirement, Gordhan's enemies are probably hopinghe will resign as minister.This would pave the way for Zuma to reshuffle his cabinet and to put in the finance portfolio a minister of his choosing.Indications are that the president has already told Luthuli House of his plans to reshuffle the cabinet and that not all at the party are happy with what he wants to do.Gordhan is not above the law and he is certainly not irreplaceable as finance minister. But the manner in which the SARS "rogue unit" investigation has been conducted and the timing of the decision to prosecute suggests politics are at play here.The same NPA eager to charge Gordhan has done all in its power to avoid what every court so far has told it to do - reinstate fraud charges against Zuma. That is why we believe that Gordhan should not make things easy for Zuma by resigning. If Zuma believes that Gordhan's prosecution would make it hard for him to do his job then let him fire him.Let the president be the one who explains to the nation why he thinks a minister who is accused of irregularly extending a contract of a senior employee at a state agency is not suitable for office while he, the head of state, has spent most of his seven years in office fighting one legal case after another.

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