Chamber decries ‘reputational damage’, warns of consequences
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber yesterday there wits full support behind Pravin Gordhan, saying the Hawks investigation was being orchestrated to cause reputational damage to the embattled finance minister.
The chamber joins other business leaders and organisations across the country in showing support for Gordhan.
The drawn-out saga relates to Gordhan’s tenure as SA Revenue Service commissioner and involves his role in the establishment of a covert investigation unit and the management of a SARS senior staff member.
The saga gained momentum last week when the Hawks made it clear that Gordhan was firmly in the unit’s sights.
The chamber’s stance follows a strongly worded “call to action” by The American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa and Business Leaders South Africa’s open letter to President Jacob Zuma which claimed that investigations into Gordhan’s former role at SARS “lacked any legitimacy or credibility”.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber president Ian Nicholls said yesterday it appeared Gordhan’s investigation was “being orchestrated to cause him maximum reputational damage”.
Nicholls said this showed complete disregard of the impact these investigations had on the economy and the credibility of the institutions involved.
“While the [chamber] recognizes and respects that no person is above the law, it is the responsibility of the organs of state and political leaders to conduct themselves and their activities in a transparent manner and also in the best interests of the country.”
Nicholls said the finance minister was being subjected to public scrutiny which appeared to be politically motivated.
The situation could not be allowed to continue. “It directly affects South Africa’s credit rating prospects and threatens the reputation of the national Treasury,” he warned.
“Given the current uncertainty, global and local investor sentimentis rapidly declining.”
While the chamber remained a non-political body, Nicholls said it would continue to address critical issues facing business and the economy.
He said given the serious impact of the situation, business could not remain mute.
“The minister of finance deserves the unequivocal support of the political leadership of the country as well as business, organized labour and concerned citizens at large,” Nicholls said.
“South Africa needs to be the priority, not any personal or political agendas.”Gordhan released a statement last week detailing the alleged contraventions he is accused of.
“Suffice it to say they [Gordhan’sattorney’s] advise that the alleged charges are wholly unfounded,” it read.