South Africa's rand recovers some losses and bonds bounce off two-month lows after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan refuses to present himself to police over a probe into an alleged 'spy' unit at the country's tax service. David Pollard reports.
South Africa's had its crises, but this is still massive headline news. An open row between a finance minister and an elite police unit called the Hawks - that only thinly disguises, some claim, an emerging power struggle between Pravin Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma. At its core is a police investigation into whether Gordhan once used a secret unit within the tax service - to spy on politicians including Zuma. (SOUNDBITE)(English) SOUTH AFRICAN FINANCE MINISTER, PRAVIN GORDHAN, SAYING: "Suffice to say the advise of the alleged charges are wholly unfounded.... In the latest twist, Gordhan refusing a police request to face further police questions. (SOUNDBITE)(English) SOUTH AFRICAN FINANCE MINISTER, PRAVIN GORDHAN, SAYING: "I have a job to do in a very difficult economic environment and serve South Africa as best I can. Let me do my job." A big enough job with the economy set for zero growth this year. Even without a crisis that's seen the rand losing over five per cent since Tuesday. Though both it and government bonds steadied after Zuma issued a statement of confidence in Gordhan. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FXPRO, HEAD OF RESEARCH, SIMON SMITH, SAYING: "Political and structural reform takes many months, if not many years .... You can't change investor perceptions overnight and it's still seen as a relatively politically unstable country and that will probably take months if not years to change." Supporters of Gordhan are demanding the truth behind allegations of a plot against him. Though Zuma reappointed Gordhan after changing finance ministers twice in one week in December. Another finance minister has warned that for Zuma to fire Gordhan now would 'destroy' the economy.