Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s reaction to our story published yesterday (Thursday, March 23) in which we revealed that the Hawks had received a complaint from two anonymous whistle-blowers who claim he improperly received millions he did not qualify for, is baffling to say the least. This behaviour is appalling, coming from a public office bearer who has sold himself to South Africans as a paragon of virtue.
Here are the facts:
Before going ahead with the story, Weekly Xposé took every step to ascertain whether an internal Hawks memo in its possession was authentic. Indeed, a Hawks’ spokesman confirmed its authenticity and promised to release a statement later. Only after the document was authenticated, did we email questions to Gordhan’s office on Wednesday 22 March at 11:33 AM.
An automatic response was received instantly saying “your request is receiving attention. Please note that the response time depends on the availability of officials and final approval from management. You are welcome to follow up if you have not received a response within the next 8hrs-24hrs.” Despite being given a 2pm deadline, there was no response from Gordhan’s office by closure of business on Wednesday. We did not publish. Before the story went live yesterday (Thursday), we again gave Gordhan another chance to respond to our questions.
Instead of sending a written reply, Weekly Xposé received an email from Treasury requesting us to call a certain mobile number which we were promised would provide answers to our questions. Our countless calls to that cell-phone number went unanswered. We are shocked that instead of answering our questions, Gordhan has the audacity to run to a radio station to mislead listeners and rubbish our report. As we speak, Gordhan has not responded to the same questions that we yet again sent to his office this morning (Friday, March 24 at 11.13am). Instead, he is going around threatening all sorts of action on media platforms that never asked him questions and those that never ran the story.
If he has nothing to hide, why can’t Gordhan answer a simple question of whether he did benefit to the tune of almost R11m from a Special Pension fund and whether he did qualify for a such a payment? Why would Gordhan’s office, renowned for among other things its efficiency in handling media inquiries, fail to respond to such a straight forward question? If you thought ducking our questions would kill the story, you were so wrong Minister Gordhan. We stand by our story which, by the way, is not fake news as you claim. No amount of arrogance, bullying, insults and threats of legal action will deter us from executing our duty of gathering and disseminating news objectively, truthfully and without fear or favour.
Shame on you Mr Gordhan.