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Archbishop comes to defence of South Africa’s finance minister

Posted on: September 14, 2016 10:25 AM
South Africa’s finance minister Pravin Gordhan has won the support of the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba.
Photo Credit: World Economic Forum

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, has published an open letter affirming his support for South Africa’s embattled finance minister Pravin Gordhan. The minister is being investigated by police to see if he used the tax system to spy on politicians, including the country’s President, Jacob Zuma. Zuma was heavily criticised earlier this year after a judge ruled that he had misused up to R246 million South African Rand (approximately £11.65 million GBP) of public funds for improvements to his private home, Nkandla, under the guise of security.

Mr Gordhan has denied doing anything wrong, and called the investigation a witch-hunt; while President Zuma has rejected accusations of a power struggle. “There is no war between the Presidency and the Treasury,” he told Parliament this week. “I am clarifying that point. It must be as clear as anything.”

In his letter, which was published today (Wednesday), Archbishop Thabo says that he is writing both on behalf of the Anglican Church and also of the religious leaders who met with the finance minister ahead of this year’s budget, “to reassure you of our support for your difficult task at this time.”

Archbishop Thabo says: “I am confident that religious leaders of all faiths speak on behalf of millions of their followers when we reassure you that our people are praying for you and that the vast majority of South Africans are behind you in your efforts to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent for the benefit of all and not to enrich a few.

“We want to highlight the critical values of openness and transparency and urge you within the constraints imposed by the law to ensure that the maximum light is brought to bear on how government resources are being spent. As Christians we say the truth will set us free (John 8:32). The sun, the light, is God’s disinfectant and will help us cleanse ourselves as a nation.

“We thank you for your hard work and dedication and your willingness even to put your life on the line in order to protect the gains of the struggle and to enhance the quality of the lives of our people.”

Speaking to 702 Talk Radio, South Africa’s deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, said that the investigation into Gordhan was causing economic uncertainty. “It does destabilise, not only Treasury, it creates uncertainties across the economy,” he said. “We feel confident there is no basis for the allegation. We are not worried about that.”