SA’s Gordhan dismisses fraud charge as “frivolous”

CAPE TOWN  – South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan on Friday dismissed fraud charges laid against him this week as “frivolous” and said he would carry on with his job, including delivering an interim budget at the end of the month.

Speaking via video link to a Thomson Reuters investment conference in Cape Town, a steadfast Gordhan also said the economy was bottoming out and had every chance of expanding by more than 1 percent next year.

The fraud charges have fuelled suspicions of a political plot to oust Gordhan, a highly respected finance minister who has defied friends and allies of President Jacob Zuma in their quest for lucrative state contracts, analysts say.

Gordhan characterised the charges as “political mischief” and said he would continue his work in trying to convince ratings agencies not to downgrade South Africa to sub-investment grade at the beginning of December.

The charges caused fresh turmoil in South Africa’s financial markets this week, sending the rand more than 3 percent lower on Tuesday.

However, the currency recovered some of those losses the next day when the state prosecutor said he might be open to reviewing the charges if asked.

Gordhan said his lawyers would be issuing a statement in that regard later on Friday.

Despite the charges, Zuma has continued to express his support for Gordhan.

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Ed Stoddard)


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