* Opposition has called Gordhan probe a "witch-hunt"
* Police probing surveillance unit at tax service
* Gordhan against bank inquiry over Gupta accounts
(Adds Gordhan quotes, bank inquiry, Guptas)
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, Sept 8 South African Finance Minister
Pravin Gordhan, who is facing an investigation by police that
the opposition has called a "witch-hunt", said on Thursday that
whether he remained in office was up to President Jacob Zuma.
Police are investigating Gordhan over the activities of a
surveillance unit set up years ago when he headed the tax
service, an investigation that has rocked markets and raised
concerns over a possible sovereign credit downgrade this year.
Gordhan, who last month declined to obey a police summons
linked to the inquiry into whether he used a unit of the tax
service to spy on politicians including Zuma, said he had
complied with the probe by the elite police unit Hawks.
Investors have become wary since last December when Zuma
changed finance ministers twice in one week, sending the rand
Gordhan said cabinet appointments were made by Zuma.
"If required to deliver the budget in February, I will be
willing to do that," he said in response to a question from a
participant at a book festival which he visited in Cape Town.
"You can arrest me now if you want, but what have I done
wrong? I am not required by law to go there. All the questions
have been asked and answered," he said.
Gordhan said he had told the Hawks of his willingness to
cooperate but the police were yet to contact him.
Zuma has said he backs Gordhan but cannot stop the
investigation. Some senior members in the ruling African
National Congress party have criticised the finance minister for
not obeying the police summons.
In December, Zuma sacked Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister
and replaced him with then relatively unknown lawmaker Des van
Rooyen, sparking a wave of financial turmoil.
In a dramatic U-turn, Zuma replaced Van Rooyen with Gordhan
who had previously held the post from 2009 to 2014, when he was
replaced with Nene.
With the economy forecast by the central bank to record zero
growth this year, the political tensions surrounding Gordhan
have unnerved investors and hit the rand and government bonds.
At Thursday's event, Gordhan also said that a judicial
inquiry into the banking sector was unnecessary, adding that
anyone who felt aggrieved could approach the courts.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane last week urged
Zuma to launch the probe, to find out why the top four major
banks had cut ties with Oakbay Investments, a company owned by
the wealthy Gupta family.
The Indian-born Gupta brothers, whose businesses stretch
from media to mining, had complained to the government when
their accounts were closed in April. They have been accused by
the opposition of holding undue sway over Zuma. The Guptas and
Zuma have denied the accusations.
The chief executive of Oakbay said on Thursday the firm will
again try to restore its ties with the banks.
(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Richard Balmforth)