Re­prieve for Gord­han, SA as NPA back­tracks on fraud charges

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) head Shaun Abra­hams yes­ter­day with­drew fraud charges against Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and two for­mer SA Rev­enue Ser­vice com­mis­sion­ers, say­ing he didn’t in­tend to act un­law­fully.

The an­nounce­ment marked a dra­matic turn­around in the le­gal pur­suit against Gord­han, who was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion over the early re­tire­ment of a for­mer col­league at the na­tional tax agency that re­sulted in R1.1 mil­lion of al­legedly wasteful ex­pen­di­ture. Gord­han was sched­uled to ap­pear in court to­mor­row.

Gord­han and for­mer col­leagues Oupa Ma­gashula and Ivan Pil­lay “did not have the req­ui­site in­ten­tion to act un­law­fully,” Abra­hams told re­porters at a me­dia brief­ing in Sil­ver­ton. “I have de­cided to over­rule the in­ten­tion to pros­e­cute. I have di­rected the sum­monses to be with­drawn with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.”

Gord­han (67), has been a key driver of a cam­paign to main­tain South Africa’s in­vest­ment-grade credit rat­ing, which is up for re­view over the next two months. He called the al­le­ga­tions a po­lit­i­cal stitch-up, and he’s clashed with Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma over the af­ford­abil­ity of nu­clear power plants the pres­i­dent wants to build, and the man­age­ment of state com­pa­nies and the na­tional tax agency.

The rand ad­vanced as much as 1.8 per­cent against the dol­lar, to the strong­est since Oc­to­ber 4, lead­ing gains among 31 ma­jor and emerg­ing-mar­ket cur­ren­cies tracked by Bloomberg. Against the euro, South Africa’s cur­rency ral­lied as much as 2.1 per­cent to the high­est since Au­gust 16.

“This is new chap­ter in the war be­tween Zuma and Gord­han,” said Theo Venter, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst at North West Univer­sity in Potchef­stroom, west of Jo­han­nes­burg. “The ob­vi­ous strat­egy to get Gord­han out of the cabi­net failed. It is go­ing to be very, very hard to re­move Gord­han now.”

While yes­ter­day’s de­ci­sion ap­peared to strengthen Gord­han’s po­si­tion, pros­e­cu­tors are still con­sid­er­ing whether to charge him in con­nec­tion with al­le­ga­tions that he over­saw the es­tab­lish­ment of an il­licit in­ves­tiga­tive unit dur­ing his ten­ure as head of the na­tional tax agency.

Zuma ap­pointed Gord­han as fi­nance min­is­ter in De­cem­ber un­der pres­sure from rul­ing party and busi­ness lead­ers, af­ter his de­ci­sion to give the post to lit­tle-known law­maker David van Rooyen sparked a sell-off in the rand and na­tion’s bonds. — Fin24.

Pravin Gord­han

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