Durban - Natal Indian Congress stalwarts and other Struggle leading lights have thrown their weight behind Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, with a well known Durban judge saying the prosecuting authority would “fall flat on its face” bringing him to court.
At Sunday’s meeting of the Active Citizens Movement (ACM) in Asherville, Durban, Thumba Pillay, a Struggle veteran and retired judge, said that having known and worked with Gordhan for more than four decades, he was “convinced” of his innocence.
He said the charges brought against Gordhan by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were bound to fail before they got off the ground. “I think that’s going to fall flat on its face,” he said.
Almost 300 struggle veterans from the Natal Indian Congress, the United Democratic Front and community members pledged their support to Gordhan at the meeting, as the newly formed movement geared up to rally support for the finance minister, former South African Revenue Services (Sars) deputy commissioner, Ivan Pillay, and former commissioner, Oupa Magashule.
Gordhan is at the centre of a struggle that has divided the ANC and brought the threat of court action from opposition parties, over allegations that the Gupta business family has had undue influence over President Zuma.
The EFF on Sunday said it had laid criminal charges against the Gupta family and the directors of their companies, including Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma.
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu laid the charges at the Rosebank police station. They relate to an affidavit filed by Gordhan at the weekend concerning the Gupta’s banking activities.
DA MP David Maynier said he planned to lay charges against the Guptas this week. These were in addition to charges brought in March.
The NPA’s Shaun Abrahams announced last week that Gordhan had been charged with fraud for approving the early retirement of Ivan Pillay in 2010 and re-hiring him as a consultant.
Gordhan maintains the charge was politically motivated.
Judge Pillay said that apart from the charges the finance minster was facing, “there are also other issues, and one of them is the capture of state institutions”.
“State institutions are being used to settle personal scores and with the position of head of the NPA we’ve had a disaster, one after the other.
“There was (Menzi) Simelane, there was Mokotedi Mpshe, (Mxolisi) Nxasana - who have been disasters.
“That is a vital institution and if you capture that institution then we are opening the door to corruption,” said the retired judge.
He said there was in-fighting within the Zuma cabinet and ministers were divided.
“I am optimistic that the bubble is about to burst and part of our mandate should be to keep the pressure on because there is a war going on within the ruling party, in cabinet and in state institutions, and the capture of this institution is a vital issue we should be concerned about.”
Head of the Juma Musjid Trust, AV Mohammed, said Gordhan had drawn a line against corruption and was the “symbol” of what the ACM stood for.
“We have to help him (Gordhan) stand up against these charges.
“Our job is to help stand against what he has been willing to put his neck on the line for,” said Mohammed.
A former activist and one of the leaders of the ACM, Yusuf Dawda, said the movement wanted to address issues of accountability of leaders at national, provincial and local spheres.
“We want to fight against the assault on our democracy and the assault on vital institutions such as Treasury,” Dawda said.
The organisation was planning a march to the city hall on November 2, the day of Gordhan’s first appearance in court, to show solidarity with him.
The organisation urged members to join the march.
Yesterday’s meeting caps a week of high drama for Gordhan, Zuma and the Guptas.
In a court affidavit distributed by Treasury at the weekend, Gordhan revealed that R6.8 billion in payments made by companies controlled by brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta had been reported to authorities as suspicious.
The three India-born businessmen are the subject of a Public Protector investigation into allegations they have had undue influence over Zuma.
A report on the investigation had been expected to be released on Friday, but an interdict was obtained by Zuma ally, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen, to prevent the release. It will be challenged next month.
Opposition parties have laid criminal charges against ANC Youth League president, Collen Maine, who allegedly incited violence at a march in Durban on Saturday, by calling on MK veterans to take up arms in Zuma’s defence.
Maine made the comments at the steps of the city hall, speaking after the #HandsOffZuma march.
“We must rise and indicate to the enemy that we are more than ready, the Comrades of Umkhonto we Sizwe, your guns, bring them now, now is the time to defend the revolution,” said Maine.
Cope and the DA have laid charges of incitement to commit violence against Maine.
Dennis Bloem, Cope spokesman, said: “We laid charges of incitement of violence after Maine called on Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans to take up arms to defend the revolution.
“It is very clear that this loose cannon Maine does not know the history of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC.
“Maine must know that this military wing was formed for a specific mission and purpose; it was never destined to kill people,” he said.
He called on the MKMVA to distance itself from the call.
DA Youth chairman, Yusuf Cassim, said Maine was inciting violence and said they would open criminal charges against him.
“Maine’s statements are dangerous, callous and irresponsible. They are in direct contravention of the Constitution,” said Cassim.
“Many South Africans fought and died for a democratic South Africa, at peace with itself and the world. To call for civil war goes against everything the struggle for democracy represented.
“It is telling that at a time of profound crisis for young South Africans, with universities shut down and youth unemployment rapidly rising, the ANCYL is more concerned with protecting Jacob Zuma than the plight of our youth,” said Cassim.
He slammed the ANCYL as a factionalist lobby group for the ANC.
Additional reporting by Sihle Mlambo and Reuters