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South Africa prosecutor drops fraud charges against Gordhan

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South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers his mid-term budget speech to pledge more money for universities on October 26, 2016 at the South African Parliament, in Cape Town. South African police on October 26, 2016, fired stun grenades to disperse student protesters outside parliament as the finance minister delivered a speech warning of the country's weakening economy. Gordhan cut the 2016 growth forecast sharply from 0.9 percent to 0.5 percent as South Africa struggles with political uncertainty, violent university protests and high unemployment. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RODGER BOSCH

South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers his mid-term budget speech to pledge more money for universities on October 26, 2016 at the South African Parliament, in Cape Town.<br />South African police on October 26, 2016, fired stun grenades to disperse student protesters outside parliament as the finance minister delivered a speech warning of the country’s weakening economy. Gordhan cut the 2016 growth forecast sharply from 0.9 percent to 0.5 percent as South Africa struggles with political uncertainty, violent university protests and high unemployment. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RODGER BOSCH

South Africa’s top prosecutor on Monday announced that fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his co-accused would be dropped.

Shaun Abrahams said he forsees difficulties in proving the charges against Gordhan, which have driven a wedge between rival camps in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

“I have directed the summons to be withdrawn with immediate effect,” Abrahams told journalists.

Gordhan, a respected ANC veteran, was due to appear in court on November 2 on charges dating back to 2010 over a colleague’s retirement package.

In announcing the decision, Abrahams said he believed Gordhan did not intend to break the law.

Gordhan has claimed the charges were politically motivated, and received support from several high-profile ANC politicians — including the nation’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and numerous ministers — as well as scores of business leaders.

His imminent prosecution had sparked investor fears that he would also be sacked, as the country reels from an economic downturn and declining business confidence.

He has been a vocal opponent of corruption and excessive spending by President Jacob Zuma’s government, which has been hit by a series of graft scandals and slowing economic growth.



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