By Andile Mngxitama
The dramatic withdrawal of the fraud charges against Minister Pravin Gordhan has raised serious questions about the independence of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA). The State Prosecutor, Shaun Abrahams, had, just a few weeks ago, told the nation that Gordhan has a case to answer. The avalanche of responses to pressurize the NPA to withdraw the charges has seemingly paid off and thereby eroded the integrity of the NPA which is now seen as being open to influence by the powerful in society.
Sources say that the tipping point for the NPA was the call by 81 Chief Executives Officers (CEOs), who represent some of the most powerful white companies in South Africa, for the fraud charges against Gordhan to be dropped. This move by white monopoly capital is consistent with the unlawful pressure they had put on President Jacob Zuma to appoint Pravin Gordhan as Minister of Finance last December. To this end there is currently a criminal case opened against some of the CEOs of white businesses and a complaint with the Public Protector for white state capture.
Many people in South Africa are now asking the question, “was Shaun Abrahams unduly influenced by the powerful in society?” This question would not have arisen if there was no call by the powerful to the NPA to withdraw the charges. What complicates the debate further is that the corporations which control the economy of S.A. and had taken an aggressive stance in defence of Gordhan are businesses in which he has shares. Black First Land First (BLF) has lodged a High Court application in Pretoria to declare Gordhan conflicted, captured and compromised. The fact that these same corporations, which have pushed for the dropping of the charges, have a direct interest in Gordhan being a minister shows how the criminal justice system is compromised and why a minister shouldn’t be beholden to private hands.
The withdrawal of the charges against Gordhan proves the point made by BLF that Gordhan’s conflict of interest situation is bad for good governance and the rule of law. Now society can speak with confidence that if you have white capital on your side you can be a law unto yourself with impunity. It remains to be seen if Gordhan shall oppose the BLF High Court application. As things stand the institutions of law enforcement are exposed as succumbing to pressure from the rich and powerful, who in South Africa is monopoly white capital.