Church in South Africa Opposed to President Zuma’s Instruction to Cut Short Finance Minister’s UK-and-USA Investor-Related Tour
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 27 March 2017
The Catholic Church in South Africa through the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has made known its support for the international investment tour taken by the country’s Finance Minister to the UK and the USA, expressing “deep concern” President Jacob Zuma’s latest instruction to cut short the ongoing trip.
In a letter availed to CANAA on Monday, March 27 titled, “Catholic Church Deplores the Recall of Gordhan, Jonas; Warns Against a Repeat of the Nene Debacle,” the Catholic Bishops have called on President Zuma not to reshuffle the Ministry of Finance.
“The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has noted with deep concern reports that President Zuma has recalled Minister Gordhan and Deputy-Minister Jonas from their investment visit to the UK and the USA,” the beginning of the Catholic Bishops’ letter states.
Monday morning, Daily Maverick reported, “A one sentence statement issued by the Presidency at 11:49am read: President Jacob Zuma has instructed the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas to cancel the international investment promotion roadshow to the United Kingdom and the United States and return to South Africa immediately.”
While reports indicate that the National Treasury had received authorization in writing from the Presidency to do the international investor tour, the Presidency has rescinded the authorization without providing any explanation.
“It is clear to us that Mr Gordhan and Mr Jonas have been working diligently to improve South Africa’s economic outlook, and to persuade investors that our country is a stable and attractive place to do business,” the Catholic Bishops have stated and added, “Without such investment, we cannot hope to provide jobs to our millions of unemployed men and women.”
“Now fears are growing that Zuma is about to reshuffle his cabinet following months of speculation that Gordhan is about to be fired in favour of former Eskom boss, Brian Molefe,” Daily Maverick has reported.
“We call upon President Zuma to put South Africa first, and to publicly confirm his support for Mr Gordhan and Mr Jonas in their present positions,” the Catholic Bishops in South Africa have stated.
According to Daily Maverick, the “Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was contacted by the Presidency overnight in London and instructed to return to the country” and the “US leg of the National Treasury’s investor roadshow was cancelled.”
“We cannot forget the disastrous consequences that followed President's Zuma's decision of the December 2015 to fire the then-Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene,” the Catholic Bishops in South Africa recalled and added, “It would be the height of irresponsibility were something similar to happen again, just as our economy shows signs of recovery.”
The Bishops have concluded, “Mr Gordhan enjoys widespread esteem for the work he has done to help the country recover from the Nene debacle. It would be a tragic irony if that work were now to be undone.”
Following the news of the Presidency cutting short the investor-related tour, the South African Rand seems to have reversed its gains by Monday evening, trading at 1.8 percent lower against the US dollar.