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  I am not sure who is going to be the winner in this bizarre tug-of-war, but I can predict for certain that the looser will be the South African economy and the public....  

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Gordhan says unable to meet deadline to answer police questions

As Hawks probe Sars spy unit.

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will not meet a Wednesday deadline set by an elite police unit to answer questions on his role in setting up a spy unit at the revenue service, his lawyers said.

In a letter from his lawyers, Gordhan said he had received the questions at a time when he was preparing his budget speech, which he delivered on February 24. 

The police is probing the rogue spy unit at Sars, which is accused of conducting illegal surveillance on taxpayers.

Gordhan, who headed the South African Revenue Service (Sars) at the time, has said he has no case to answer.

“He will respond in due course, once he has properly examined the questions and ascertained what information, of the information you request, he is able to provide,” the letter from his lawyers, Gildenhuys Malatji said. 

“On what authority do you rely on directing these questions to the Honourable Minister? Are you investigating any offence? If so, what is it?”

Separately, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said on Wednesday that questions put to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan by an elite police unit do not mean Gordhan is under investigation for a crime or will be charged. 

“It does not mean that the individual is necessarily facing an investigation, or is being charged for that matter,” he told a press conference in Cape Town.

Gordhan said on Friday there were attempts to discredit him and the integrity of the Treasury through the probe, sending the rand currency of Africa’s most industrialised economy down nearly 4%, its biggest daily loss since 2011.

The rand fell further after South African media speculated that Gordhan had fallen out of favour with President Jacob Zuma. The president on Monday rejected claims that he was feuding with Gordhan, helping the currency recover.

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I am not sure who is going to be the winner in this bizarre tug-of-war, but I can predict for certain that the looser will be the South African economy and the public.

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