Johannesburg - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan should step down while he is fighting the fraud charges against him, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said.
The NPA announced on Tuesday that the charges related to a pension paid out to former deputy commissioner at Sars, Ivan Pillay. The matter is due before court on November 2.
Holomisa said Gordhan should step down for the stability of the country’s economy. He said a portfolio as crucial as finance should not be run by someone under a cloud.
"Personally, I would step down. When you deal with a politician accused of wrong doing, you don’t have to prove beyond reasonable doubt. [The] balance of probabilities is sufficient to ask that person to go home in interest of country office he occupies," Holomisa said.
Holomisa told News24 that the country should welcome charges finally being laid against Gordhan, as this would give him an opportunity to clear his name.
"This dark cloud has been hanging over his shoulder for some time. While we are of the view that this should have be done in a way that is least disruptive to the economy, we should have done this a long time ago when [President Jacob] Zuma has been protected by the same institution [NPA]."
'Occupy the streets'
In September, African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe said if Gordhan was charged then he should step down.
"If you are charged, ideally you step down. Some have done so, while others have resisted and only step down once found guilty," he said at the time.
However, other parties came out in defence of Gordhan.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema linked the NPA investigation on Gordhan to the ongoing investigation by outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into alleged state capture by the Gupta family.
Malema tweeted: "Zuma is fighting back because of evidence presented by treasury to Public Protector on state capture. We support #Pravin and not criminals."
In another tweet, Malema called on South Africans to go to the streets to show their support for Gordhan.
"[On] 2 November 2016, all those who love our country and its Constitution must occupy the streets of Pretoria in support of our democracy."
Cope said it was disturbed by the NPA’s announcement and viewed the developments as an attempt by Zuma to put his preferred minister in charge of the Treasury.
"We know that the president of this country has tried several times to get his hands on to Treasury, we know that he has removed [former finance minister] Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Des Van Rooyen; now he is using the Hawks to remove Gordhan."
The party said Gordhan should not step down, and should instead continue with his efforts to salvage the economy.
The rand plummeted when Zuma fired Nene in December 2015. He was later forced to replace Van Rooyen with Gordhan after just four days in the post.
Following Abrahams' announcement on Tuesday, the rand went into freefall again.
Meanwhile, the ANC has called on Gordhan to fully co-operate with the NPA to bring finality to the matter.
It said it had full confidence in the judiciary to act as final arbiters in this matter.
"This investigation and related, untested and mischievous 'conspiracy theories' has had a detrimental effect on the South African economy and we trust that today’s announcement will move us a step closer to uncovering the truth from facts and bring this matter to finality," the party said in a statement.