Charges against Gordhan ‘reckless’‚ says Manuel

13 October 2016 - 19:56 By Karl Gernetzky

Fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan are “reckless‚” with SA facing leadership deficiencies across sectors that are leading to a “descent in the national conversation” and a move away from constitutional principles‚ former finance minister Trevor Manuel said on Thursday. At the same time many sections of SA were failing to adequately face the question of national identity‚ with those on either side of the debate increasingly intolerant‚ Manuel said an address to a Business Day/Financial Mail re-launch soiree in Johannesburg. SA was facing a steady erosion of constitutional principles‚ and “those incapable of understanding this should step aside”‚ Manuel said. Amid a dismal year for the SA political economy‚ the March 31 judgment reaffirming the powers of the Public Protector stood out. President Jacob Zuma had failed to respect the powers of a Chapter 9 institution‚ while parliament‚ in not exercising oversight‚ continued to fail to reflect on this deficiency‚ Manuel said.“We have not yet fully digested the import of the constitutional court judgment finding significant failure in the other two tiers of government‚” he said.“I don’t think we are in a low-scale constitutional crisis … when you have one arm of government saying the two other arms have failed that is a deep crisis‚” he said. This extended more generally to areas such as the roles and responsibilities of state officials‚ including ministers‚ he said.“If the Minister of Mineral Resources wanted to lead a team to look at the banking‚ that needs be published in the government gazette‚” Manuel said.“What we have seen is a flagrant disregard for the constitution‚” he said‚ although he also appealed against placing SA’s problems on one person.“I happen to be of the view that many of our problems are far more systemic than a focus on a single individual. The reason why I … am talking about the national conversation‚” he said.Manuel appealed for a reinvigorated “national conversation‚" with one of the first questions being “how far have we fallen as a country?” SA was a constitutional democracy‚ however the constitution was only meant to serve as an “incomplete bridge” between SA’s past‚ and future development. “The national project is both complex and exceedingly incomplete‚ and the struggle at the centre is for national identity‚” Manuel said.“The fees must fall campaign is one of the most starkest reminders of the incompleteness of that bridge‚” he said.“We are not finding each other through these studies … we are witnessing the on-going razing of institutions of higher learning and intolerance of other views‚” he said.-TMG Digital/Business Live

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.