The rand surged against the dollar in the afternoon session on Monday after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that fraud charges have been dropped against finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
NPA boss Shaun Abrahams said that the decision was based on representations made by Pillay and Magashula, after consulting with the relevant NPA directors.
Gordhan was initially charged with fraud for approving the payment of an early pension to Pillay. The minister rejected any wrong doing.
By 14h30, the rand traded 2.47% stronger against the US currency at R13.52. It also strengthened more than 2% against the British pound, to R16.45, and 2.3% against the euro, to R14.83.
On October 11, when the NPA announced it would charge Gordhan, former SA Revenue Service commissioner Oupa Magashula and former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay for fraud, the rand weakened to R14.36 against the dollar.
The Democratic Alliance meanwhile, called for Abrahams’ head, following his decision to drop the criminal charges, while the African National Congress welcomed the decision.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Monday said the decision to drop the charges vindicated the party’s position that these charges were indeed manufactured for malicious political purposes and were without merit.
“We maintain that Shaun Abrahams initiated these charges against Pravin Gordhan for narrow political purposes, and now following a lack of evidence and huge public outcry, Abrahams has been forced to make an embarrassing about-turn, leaving him with egg on his face.”
The National Director of Public Prosecutions could not simply say they had made a mistake and withdraw charges, Maimane said.
“The stakes are far too high to be making such unacceptable and irresponsible mistakes. Shaun Abrahams must be held responsible for this unacceptable blunder. Questions remain regarding whether this was in fact malicious prosecution, what the consequences have been on the economy, and lastly, the damage to the reputation of the Minister of Finance.”
Maimane called on President Jacob Zuma to suspend Abrahams with immediate effect.
“Jacob Zuma must now act decisively, failing which we will have no option but to believe that he is behind these malicious political antics.”
Abrahams told the media on Monday that the decision to prosecute Gordhan had not been made by him, and he had reviewed it when the two parties made submissions.
He did not see the need to resign over the debacle. “Will I resign? Certainly not, certainly not. I don’t owe anyone an apology,” he said.
In making his decision, he had applied his mind to the law, he said. “Neither Pillay, Gordhan or Magashule spent a day in court,” he said.