By Pinky Khoabane
The battle for the soul of South Africa’s economy has reached such a crescendo that it is literally palpable. In the battle to sway readers and audiences the message and words are being used selectively revealing glaring double standards.
In a week in which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced it would summon Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to appear in court, the questions weren’t around the shock that Gordhan had allegedly committed a crime followed by the usual media probes into the nature of the alleged crime. Instead it was around the timing of the announcement and the trivial nature of the charges.
It is simply unbelievable that the same pundits who are constantly in court to uphold the Constitution of the Republic and the Rule of law would dismiss an alleged crime on the basis of triviality.
In some way the media has taken the correct stance in allowing the courts to decide and to abide by the sacred principle of law; of presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It is admirable from a part of our community which rarely gives those they deem enemies the same right.
A narrative has been carved around Gordhan. Until the Sunday Times retracted its two-year series of stories around the unlawful intelligence unit at SARS, better known as the Rogue Unit, the finance minister was found guilty in the court of public opinion and although there was muted public response, it was assumed the Sunday Times was correct.
It was only after the paper retracted parts of its story that the image of Gordhan as an untouchable emerged, largely developed through a campaign by a cabal of white journalists who among other tactics, publicly discredited one of the journalists involved in the story.
Such is the extent of the narrative of a “squeaky clean” Gordhan that his supporters have praised him for disregarding the law when asked to appear before the HAWKS to answer more questions on the Rogue Unit. They have used the threat of an economic crash if he were to be arrested. It was therefore not surprising to see the Rand drop in the aftermath of the announcement.
But the sincerity of the pundits falls away when double standards creep-in and reveal a sinister agenda.
The finance minister was hailed when he refused to respond to the HAWKS citing the preparation of the budget ahead of the Budget Speech which he was to table in Parliament and trips abroad to appease rating agencies.
Headlines roared: “Leave me to do my job, Gordhan” and yet he was in sheer breach of the law. If an enemy of the media were to do same, he would be castigated and described as “evasive”.
The Public Protector was to present findings into the State Capture, which only focuses on the alleged Gupta family’s influence on the appointment of ministers in President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet. That the economy and state capture of white monopoly capitalists is well documented puts into question the narrow and selective approach to the probe and therefore reveals a sinister agenda behind it.
Madonsela, when the probe was lodged by the Democratic Alliance (DA) earlier this year, pleaded poverty. Strangely, Treasury, from where the allegations emanated in the first place, was quick to offer her the money to probe. The allegations were sparked by Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas’s claims that the Gupta family had offered him a cabinet post.
This rush to start a probe when Madonsela had no money and a backlog of untouched cases, would have been met with many questions were it not that she was investigating Zuma and the Guptas.
The timing of Madonsela and her rush to deal with the state capture, which she was to present before she left office, is sinister. Minister of Co-porative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen interdicted the public protector from publishing the report on the basis that he had not had time to appropriately respond to it.
The incoming Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkwebane confirmed there was a backlog of “life and death” cases which Madonsela had not probed but she has been in a hurry to complete the state capture investigation and confirmed in court that it had been completed. The question that must be asked is WHY she has been in such a rush at the expense of other complaints.