CAPE TOWN, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Monday welcomed the decision by chief prosecutor Shaun Abrahams to discontinue fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two of his former colleagues.
Informed by the constitutional principle of innocent until proven otherwise, the ANC always believed in the innocence of Gordhan, hence its unwavering support since fraud charges were preferred against him, the ANC said in a statement.
On Monday, Abrahams announced in Pretoria that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has dropped fraud charges against Gordhan, former South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Oupa Magashula and former SARS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay.
Abrahams said Gordhan, Pillay and Magashula did not have the requisite intention to act unlawfully.
The NAP summoned the three earlier this month to appear in court on November 2 over fraud charges. The NPA said Gordhan, Magashula and Pillay would be charged with fraud amounting to more than 1.1 million rand (about 80,000 U.S. dollars) in relation to Pillay's early retirement pay-out.
Gordhan was also accused of illegally setting up a "rogue unit" to spy on taxpayers, including President Jacob Zuma, when Gordhan was SARS commissioner between 1999 and 2009.
The summon caused jitters at the financial market amid fears that international rating agencies are about to downgrade South Africa's credit rating to junk status. This prompted calls for the NPA to drop charges against Gordhan.
Responding to the decision, the ANC said actions of the NPA to charge the three men have had a negative impact on the economy and created unnecessary speculations about the real motive.
"Now that the charges have been dropped, we must continue to build on the trajectory of economic growth as envisaged and to create jobs as outlined by the Minister of Finance, Comrade Pravin Gordhan, in the recent Medium Term Budget Policy Statement," ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.