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South Africa's Zuma backs finance minister Gordhan, dismisses rumours of conspiracy against minister
26/02/2016 00:00:00
by Reuters
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JOHANNESBURG: South African President Jacob Zuma said on Friday he had "full confidence" in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and dismissed "rumours and gossip which insinuate some conspiracy against minister Gordhan".

The Business Day newspaper reported on Friday that Gordhan threatened to resign from the cabinet last weekend.

Quoting sources, the newspaper said Gordhan's ultimatum to Zuma ahead of his budget speech was due to a serious deterioration in Godhan's relationship with South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane.

The newspaper said the latest incident to fuel the acrimony was a letter from the elite Hawks police unit to Gordhan, questioning his knowledge of an alleged rogue unit at the tax agency. Gordhan is also a former head of the SARS.

The rand extends losses against the dollar after Zuma's statement, hitting a session low of 15.7525 against the dollar, down 1 percent on the day.

"The president has full confidence in Minister Gordhan and all his Ministers and Deputy Ministers," a statement from the presidency said.

Gordhan, reappointed in December, has clashed with Moyane amid a probe into a unit which allegedly operated unlawfully in the department under Gordhan's watch during his previous stint as finance minister in 2009-14.

At a function on Friday, Gordhan criticised Moyane for defying instructions to halt a restructuring exercise at SARS, underlining rising tensions between the finance ministry and the tax collection agency.

"I think it is absolutely unacceptable for the head of a government entity to be defiant of the executive authority that is responsible for that entity," Gordhan said at the event.

"And if there is such defiance, one must ask the question, what is there to hide."

Moyane was not immediately available to comment.


Gordhan said he would make an announcement either later on Friday, or on Saturday regarding the probe into the so-called rogue unit uncovered at SARS.




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