The chances of finance minister Pravin Gordhan keeping his job after prosecutors charged him with fraud brightened on Wednesday after he won the backing of cabinet and President Jacob Zuma appointed him to a task force on education.
“Cabinet has affirmed its support for … Gordhan,” Jeff Radebe, a minister in the presidency, told reporters in Pretoria following a cabinet meeting. He’s “innocent until otherwise proven by a court of law”.
Speculation has been rife that Gordhan was on the verge of being fired after prosecutors said on 11 October that he would be charged for fraudulently approving the early retirement of a former colleague and then rehiring him on a contract basis.
Gordhan, who has clashed with Zuma over the management of state companies and the national tax agency, says the case is a political stitch-up and he has nothing to answer for.
Gordhan, 67, has been a key driver of a campaign to maintain South Africa’s investment-grade credit rating, which is up for review over the next two months. He’s received the backing of senior officials, including Cyril Ramaphosa, a leading contender to succeed Zuma, who on Sunday said the finance minister had his moral and political support.
Radebe also announced that Zuma reversed his decision to omit Gordhan from a team that’s investigating demands by university students for all fees to be scrapped. — (c) 2016 Bloomberg LP