JOHANNESBURG Oct 16 South Africa's Deputy
President Cyril Ramaphosa came out in support of embattled
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Sunday and said fraud charges
brought against him should not be allowed to undermine his
efforts to revitalise the economy.
Prosecutors have ordered Gordhan to appear in court next
month, in what his supporters say is part of a plot to discredit
a man who has defied close allies of President Jacob Zuma.
"Events of the past few days regarding summonses served on
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan have been of concern to many
South Africans across all sectors of society," said Ramaphosa,
who is seen as a strong contender to replace Zuma when his term
"I lend my support to Minister Gordhan as he faces charges
brought against him by the National Prosecuting Authority,"
Ramaphosa said the charges had been announced as Gordhan
prepared to deliver the Medium Term Budget Statement on Oct 26.
The legal action, which shook markets and hit the rand, also
come as the country was bracing for possible ratings downgrades.
"Whatever the legal challenges that Minister Gordhan may
face, we must not undermine the work that the government jointly
with leaders of business and labour have been doing to stimulate
domestic and international investment in our economy," Ramaphosa
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) suffered its
worst-ever local election results in August, widening rifts in
the ruling party.
Ramaphosa saw his chances of becoming the country's next
leader increase late last month when the powerful mining union
he helped found backed him to succeed Zuma.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Andrew Heavens)