May 27, 2016 / 11:42 AM / a year ago

South Africa's Zuma not 'at war' with finance minister: presidency

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is not “at war” with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over the control of the National Treasury, the presidency said on Friday in response to widespread media reports.

Jacob Zuma addresses a news conference in Cape Town, South Africa June 14, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Recent media reports have spoken of a clash between Zuma and Gordhan, who is embroiled in an investigation over his role in the creation of a tax surveillance unit in the South Africa Revenue Service (SARS), which he ran between 1999-2009.

Gordhan said last week that newspaper reports saying he faced arrest were “extremely distressing”, calling them an attack on the Treasury and asking for it to be protected. The presidency and police have denied the reports.

Media reports and television political pundits have increased Gordhan’s woes with reports in recent weeks that he was a target of political pressure from a faction allied to Zuma.

“The narrative is being peddled in local and foreign media and some sections of business, that the president is fighting his minister of finance and the National Treasury department,” the presidency said.

“The purpose of the said ‘war’ is apparently that the president wishes to take control of the National Treasury.”

The presidency said Zuma controls all government departments including the Treasury, as the head of government, and by virtue of the fact he appoints ministers who report to the president.

Reprting by James Macharia; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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