President Cyril Ramaphosa says the law should be allowed to take its course in the matter between Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the office of the Public Protector.
Likewise, the President said the attacks by the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) on the Minister cannot go unchallenged.
The President said this when he replied to the debate on the budget vote of the Presidency in the National Assembly on Thursday.
“The extraordinary attack by Honorable Malema [of the EFF] on Minister Gordhan requires a response. It is a fundamental tenet of our democratic constitutional order that no person, no matter what position they hold, is above the law.
“No person is above scrutiny. Every person must answer for their actions. That includes the President. That includes Honorable Gordhan. And that includes even Honorable Malema. By the same measure, every person is equal before the law and must have recourse to the law. Every person must be able to enforce their rights, whether that means approaching the courts or any other competent authority,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said despite being called upon by some leaders of the opposition parties to take action against Gordhan, he said he is in no position to express a view on the findings that the Public Protector has made against Minister Gordhan.
“That is a matter that is now before the courts. But I can express a view on the character of the Minister and the contribution he has made towards the liberation of our country.
“I have appointed him to a critical and demanding position in Cabinet because I know him to be a person of commitment and integrity. He has endured and withstood extreme pressure both under apartheid and in the democratic era. He has been under pressure to abandon principle and to forsake his responsibility to this nation.
“If Minister Gordhan or any member of this administration has anything to answer for, they must be held to account without exception. They must be hauled before any court and they must go and answer. And in that regard, I will be saying to him ‘go and answer before the court of law’.
“But allow that determination to be made by an appropriate judicial institution. After due process, let the law take its course. This is what our Constitution demands. We are united in our desire to see a society free of crime and violence.”
The President, meanwhile, commended Malema for carrying out his civic duty when he recently called on the President to act on a gangster who used to terrorise residents from a certain community.
He said Malema had caught wind of the news of the gangster when he did community visits recently.
The President said the suspect has since been arrested and is behind bars.
The President said while a lot has been done to root out corruption and halt elements of State capture over the past 18 months, a lot more still needs to be done to improve the safety of citizens.
On dealing with femicide, the President said government will, in the current financial year, establish 16 additional sexual offences courts to bring to 95 the number of sexual offences courts nationally.
Responding to DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s call for broad-based black economic empowerment to be scrapped, the President said with the country coming from a difficult past and with the majority of South Africans being left with the scars of poverty and inequality, addressing past imbalances was all about social justice. He said government would not scrap the policy as it has brought some redress to the people and also led to the creation of the black middle class. – SAnews.gov.za