SA can avoid credit downgrade, says Pravin Gordhan

He says despite facing fraud charges next month, he remains positive about South Africa’s economy.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says despite facing fraud charges next month, he remains positive about South Africa's economy, avoiding a credit downgrade and his relations with President Jacob Zuma.

The minister addressed trade union leaders at United Association of SA (UASA)'s annual conference this afternoon, just a week before he's due to deliver his mid-term budget speech.

Gordhan says his relations with the president are good, despite many saying the charges against the finance minister are politically motivated.

Former political leaders, struggle stalwarts, Cabinet ministers and some senior African National Congress members have all rallied behind Gordhan, saying the charges against the minister should be withdrawn, especially since all eyes are on the country's economy, as it tries to avoid a credit downgrade at the end of the year.

Gordhan is determined to fight the fraud charges next month and has launched an application for a declaratory order to show he cannot assist the Gupta family in its dispute with major banks.

While there've been some suggestions that the charges were levelled against him in an attempt to push him out of his position as finance minister, Gordhan says everything is fine between him and the president.

"He's my president, so I have to have very good relations with him."

He also remains positive about South Africa's economy.

"I know it's a bit cloudy and rainy outside at the moment, but there's sunshine waiting for all of us if we do the right things and provide the right leadership."

Gordhan says he's now focusing on preparing the medium-term budget.

Gordhan adds he believes South Africa will be able to show rating agencies that there has been some progress in terms of growing the economy in the past few months.

Ratings agencies have warned they could cut the country's credit rating to 'junk' by year-end, if the country does not lift growth to at least one percent annually.

Gordhan says there is some positive news to report back to the agencies.

"We'll be looking to people like yourselves, in addition to ourselves, to say these promises you guys made between March and June this year and you gave us milestones that you said you'll cover; how much have you done. I believe we can begin to show a report card that does indicate progress."