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South African Prosecutors Drop Bogus Charges Against Finance Minister

Walter Russell Mead

The cause of democracy has been taking some heavy blows around the world as of late, with authoritarian strongmen riding roughshod over legal protections and constitutional limits. So it’s good news that South Africa’s embattled democracy has just seen a win for the good guys: politically motivated fraud charges against a widely respected finance minister have been dropped.The Financial Times:

The charges have been at the centre of a political storm that has rattled investors, with business leaders and some members of the ruling African National Congress arguing that they were politically motivated. The controversy laid bare toxic power struggles within the ANC and the government amid speculation that President Jacob Zuma wanted to replace Mr Gordhan with a more pliant finance minister.

The rand rallied after the charges were dropped, rising 1.3 per cent to 13.6 against the dollar. The currency had fallen nearly 4 per cent when the charges were announced.

It’s a big setback for various economic groups closely linked to South Africa’s controversial president, who in the past has tried to use state-owned companies as personal piggy banks. And it represents an important win for people who still believe in the promise of South African democracy.

It’s also a win for the economy and for poor South Africans who desperately need growth and jobs. Cronyism in the treasury is the last thing a developing country needs.

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