The South African Communist Party (SACP), a partner of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the Tripartite Alliance along with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), has called on National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams to immediately drop what it describes as "senseless charges" against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The SACP has become the first government-aligned party to suggest that the charges are a political plot to remove Gordhan from the Treasury. After months of speculation, Gordhan was last week charged with fraud by the NPA for approving an early retirement package for his then deputy during his time as head of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Speaking in Klerksdorp in North West Province over the weekend, SACP Deputy Secretary Solly Mapaila said Gordhan was standing in the way of looters who had their sight set on the Treasury coffers.

In the wake of the fall of the rand's value, Mapaila said legitimate State institutions were being used to settle political scores. "To the extent that the charges are as frivolous as factory faults as the people that produced it, it is a political mechanisation to destabilise comrade Pravin, to tell him that whatever fight he has done to try to protect the Treasury and possible looting on State Own Enterprises. You can see the agenda. What is worrying for us is that the agenda is so confidently done. We don't believe in this charge. We want to make a call to Mr Abrahams to withdraw this charge. He could make the right decision and withdraw this charge," he added.

Over the weekend, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president, Collen Maine, called on President Jacob Zuma to remove Gordhan from his finance portfolio.

Mapaila said the call was premature: "We want to ask our comrades to not use parallel mobilisation to defend wrong things happening in our organization. For instance: to defend corruption, to defend State Capture, to fend of all things in the name of defending our revolution against regime change. I think in the same march we could have focused on accountability of our government and government officials. We should be campaigning for ethical leadership."

He said that at the centre of all these was the controversial Gupta family, who have been accused of having an influence on President Jacob Zuma and on the appointment of Cabinet ministers.

With reports that the family has benefited by close to 7.0 billion Rand (about 490 million US dollars) in shoddy deals with the State, Mapaila said there was more to the matter.

"It shows that what Minister Zwane - when he was trying to lead a process to get a commission to investigate the banks - was trying to hide. The Guptas are the real elephants in the room who are stuffing up the progress that's supposed to make us a society, creating divisions with the ANC, and affecting its alliances in the manner they conducted themselves. It is quite clear that they have been involved a quite a lot illicit trade processes and we are looking forward to the NPA to make real charges now."

Mapaila also said although they respected the decision by President Zuma and Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs David Van Rooyen to halt the release of the State Capture report by former Public Protector (Ombudsman) Thuli Madonsela, the SACP viewed the move as delaying tactics by them.


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