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Zuma must account for political instability, says economist

An economist says Minister Gordhan will deliver his budget speech under "extraordinary circumstances".

President Jacob Zuma during a meeting with business and labour leaders at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 9 May 2016. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is set to deliver his mid-term budget review in Parliament today in possibly the tightest spot of any Finance Minister in the country's history.

A stagnant economy, protests around higher education funding and the threat of a ratings downgrade are just some of the pressures.

But Gordhan is also facing fraud charges that he believes are politically motivated.

Economist Iraj Abedian says Gordhan will deliver his speech today under "extraordinary circumstances".

"The minister of finance faces political machinations coming from within his party and Cabinet, and at the same time is facing very difficult economic conditions."

Gordhan's trying to steer South Africa clear of a ratings downgrade, but Abedian says he has control only over state spending and keeping debt in check, not the other factors rating agencies consider in assessing a country's creditworthiness.

"We're not doing well at all and that is where no one other than President [Jacob] Zuma should take full and final responsibility for it."