S/Africa's Rand tumbles as Court summons finance minister

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"In this regard, Minister Gordhan is innocent until and unless proven otherwise by a court of law", Zuma said.

The rand slumped as much as 4.1 percent on Tuesday after Gordhan was summoned to appear in court on fraud charges, which he described as politically motivated.

Gordhan, 67, has been the key driver of South Africa's efforts to maintain its investment-grade credit rating and shore up an economy that's growing at the slowest pace since a 2009 recession.

Since being reappointed finance minister, Gordhan has regularly clashed with Zuma loyalists after promising to fight corruption in a government often engulfed in corruption scandals, AFP reported, according to Africa Review.

However, industry advocacy organisations think the charges are the latest twist in a struggle between Gordhan and South African president Jacob Zuma.

The NPA's Shaun Abrahams announced the decision to charge Gordhan with fraud relating to his approval of early retirement of his former deputy‚ Ivan Pillay‚ when he was commissioner of SA Revenue Services.

South Africa is in the midst of other crises, with student protests across the country.

Gordhan has questioned the timing of the charges and the process used by the NPA, saying through his lawyers that he had expected Abrahams to "interact" with him and afford him the opportunity to make written submissions before making a decision.

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But he will need all his wits about him if he is to survive the country's treacherous politics and the legal system while trying to rescue the moribund economy.

He then played a pivotal role in the talks that steered South Africa towards its first democratic elections in 1994, before becoming a member of parliament for the newly elected ANC.

"The universal verdict of every serious commentator is that the National Prosecuting Authority has basically found some flimsy pretext to go after the finance minister", Daryl Glaser, a politics professor at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said by phone on Wednesday. If you read the auditor-general's annual reports, you'll find that ministers are often found to have contravened the PFMA but no one has ever been taken to court for contravention, so you can see that the charge here is really frivolous, there's no charge here really. The finance minister has been under severe pressure since his return to the role following Zuma's double sacking of Nhlanle Nene and little-known replacement David Van Rooyen in the space of four days in December.

The opposition has called the investigation on Gordhan a "witch-hunt".

The Helen Suzman Foundation cited comments by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week who said that nothing must be done to create problems in state institutions. "This is something that should concern us".

Zuma is being investigated for so-called "state capture" involving the influential Gupta family. "We support #Pravin and not criminals".

"Anything different to this will make a mockery of any expression of confidence in the minister by the president and the ruling party of South Africa", said the foundation's director, Neeshan Balton.