South African leader Jacob Zuma brushes aside market fears of a power struggle with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, declaring that “there is no war between the Presidency and the Treasury.”
Zuma emphasised this in response to a question in parliament. “I am clarifying that point. It must be as clear as anything,” he told lawmakers.
An elite police unit is investigating Gordhan over a so-called “rogue spy” unit at the tax agency, set up when he was at its helm. Some analysts say Zuma’s allies are driving the probe in a bid to oust Gordhan, something the president denied.
The affair has rattled markets in Africa’s most industrialised economy, which faces the risk of ratings downgrades later this year. Divisions within the African National Congress have widened since the ruling party suffered its worst-ever local election results last month, with analysts blaming the rifts on a conflict between Zuma and Gordhan.
Gordhan declined last month to obey a police summons linked to the inquiry into whether he had used a tax service unit to spy on politicians, including Zuma. He said he had done nothing wrong, and the opposition has called the investigation a witch hunt.
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas earlier said that the probe into Gordhan was causing economic uncertainty.
“It does destabilise, not only Treasury, it creates uncertainties across the economy,” Jonas told 702 Talk Radio. “We feel confident there is no basis for the allegation. We are not worried about that.”
Jonas also said he had met Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, an anti-corruption watchdog, as part of her inquiry into whether the wealthy Gupta family, who are close to Zuma, have been influencing high-level political appointments.
Jonas dropped a political bombshell earlier this year when he said the Gupta family offered to secure his boss’s job. Nhlanhla Nene was the finance minister at the time.
Zuma has said that the Guptas are his friends but denies doing anything improper. The Guptas have also denied making job offers to anyone in government.