South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will be prosecuted for fraud, officials said Tuesday, in a move that sent the rand tumbling over concerns about political rivalry and the country’s fragile economy.
Gordhan was appointed only late last year to calm panicked investors after President Jacob Zuma sacked two finance ministers within four days.
Since then, Gordhan has regularly clashed with Zuma loyalists after vowing to battle poor governance and graft in a government that has been engulfed by regular corruption scandals.
Shaun Abrahams, head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), told reporters that Gordhan would be prosecuted over alleged misconduct during his time as chief of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) tax collection department.
Gordhan and two others “must be prosecuted and arraigned on the following crimes: count one, fraud,” Abrahams said.
Abrahams repeatedly denied that the NPA had been influenced politically and lashed out at criticism that it was not acting independently.
“The days of disrespecting decisions of the National Prosecuting Authority are over,” he said. “The days of non-accountability and not holding senior government officials accountable are over.”
The rand dropped as much as 3.4 percent against the dollar shortly after the announcement.