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South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has withdrawn fraud charges against South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan
NPA head Shaun Abrahams said that Gordhan “did not have the requisite intention to act unlawfully,” in the case of alleged severance payments made to two senior executives at the South African Revenue Service while it was under the finance minister’s tutelage a decade ago.
“I have decided to overrule the intention to prosecute. I have directed the summonses to be withdrawn with immediate effect,” Abrahams told reporters in Pretoria on Monday.
Gordhan, who last week announced the country’s midterm budget to curb the government’s budget deficit and cut spending, has always maintained that the charges were politically motivated.
“I have a job to do in a difficult economic environment and serve South Africa as best I can. Let me do my job,” Gordhan said in a statement at the time the charges were made.
South Africa’s currency, the rand – which had fallen about three per cent when the charges were made – today soared 1.8 per cent against the dollar and more than two per cent against the euro.
The probe and the summons come at a sensitive time as South Africa tries to emerge from stalled GDP growth, with some pundits saying nothing could more destabilize the economy and the local currency than this investigation.
A number of civil society bodies and institutions had earlier expressed outrage at Gordhan’s “vilification”.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies