Firing S.Africa's Gordhan would "destroy economy" - Manuel

Gordhan said in a statement that he'd been advised that he was under no obligation to present himself to the Hawks and he'd already provided the unit with a comprehensive account of all matters about the so-called National Research Group. "I have a job to do in a hard economic environment and serve South Africa as best I can", he said.

In his statement to the Hawks, Gordhan says he was asked in August 2010 by then Sars boss Oupa Magashula to approve Pillay's early retirement and re-employment on a fixed-term contract. "He's now taking legal advice and therefore reserving comment at this stage", Treasury spokeswoman Phumza Macanda said in response to questions from Reuters.

Investigators sent Mr Gordhan a list of questions earlier this year, but he has always said the unit's work was above board and that he was unaware of any illegality connected with it.

Gordhan has refused to be drawn publicly on whether he supports the nuclear project but has said South Africa will only enter agreements it can afford.

The elite Hawks police unit has gained a reputation for being used to fight political battles.

Following Tuesday's revelation that Gordhan would, in fact, be facing charges, the rand tanked nearly 3%, with it weakening even further on Wednesday.

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In December previous year, President Jacob Zuma sacked the then finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, replacing him with a little-known MP, David van Rooyen.

The rand fell to its weakest level against the dollar in three weeks on the reports. South Africa has been one of the better performing emerging markets of 2016, rising 29.8% so far this year. "Let me do my job‚" he said.

Local media reports in May said Gordhan may face arrest on espionage charges for setting up the unit to spy on politicians including President Jacob Zuma.

The dollar is now trading at 14.0800 rand, with sterling at 18.6385 rand. The BLSA said its members said progress spurred by Zuma's State of the Nation speech and Gordhan's Budget, together with joint action between business and labour, was under threat by "the possible charge or even arrest" of Gordhan.

The Hawks believe Gordhan contravened sections of the Public Finance Management Act, the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act as well as the National Strategic Intelligence Act.

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