In a move that shocked South Africans, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday dropped the much debated fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two former South African Revenue Service (SARS) employees, Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay. While many commentators have welcomed the news, the NPA has in turn received a barrage of criticism for its initial decision to charge Gordhan and his co-accused, a decision that opposition parties have deemed politically motivated.
Given the widespread criticism against the NPA, the South African Muslim Network (Samnet) has called for civil society to converge around the protection of its interests. Samnet director Dr Faisal Suliman said the organisation is in support of an active citizen’s movement, describing the organisation as being “fed-up with corruption”.
“The violence that took place on campuses is unacceptable, but the message that the students sent out, of putting this on the national agenda, I think that an active citizen’s movement must put this on the national agenda as a warning to all politicians – we have had enough,” Suliman stated.
While noting that any financial gain is positive, where the rand strengthened by approximately 10 cents following the NPA’s decision on Monday, Suliman says that South Africans will only feel the impact as prices of commodities increase.
“In terms of how money markets move, there are people who are cash flush and for them to inject R1 billion in or out of South Africa is nothing. So I wouldn’t read too much into that,” he added.
While the discussion around issues of governance has grown in intensity over the past few years, Suliman says that the legacy of the African National Congress (ANC) has resulted in a lack of accountability within spheres of leadership.
The lack of accountability, he says appears to be evident in the widespread protest action that the country has witnessed in recent years, where similar demands are repeated every few months.
“[We had] the Nkandla issue and the ConCourt ruling, then you started seeing some voices from among the stalwarts of the ANC were being heard.”
Suliman asserts that the tipping point followed the 2016 Local Municipals Elections, where the ANC lost vital metros, including Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
In addition, he says that the manner in which government, particularly the president of the state, dealt with the #FeesMustFall uprising conveyed a message that strongly lacked interest the issues that face citizens.
“We should have had a president who was out there, visiting campuses and addressing the students themselves. Instead, we saw Blade [Nzimande] as ‘remote-controlled’,” Suliman said.
Suliman further notes that as South Africans confront issues relating to the withdrawal of charges against Gordhan and his co-accused, citizens are now asserting their frustration at the current status quo within government.
“The public is saying enough of corruption, we are not going to accept nepotism or cronyism from anyone; our economy is at ½ per cent and 1 per cent growth, there are no deep pockets left to cover-up corruption,” he continued.