South African prosecutors have dropped fraud charges against the finance minister and two former tax officials, reversing a decision that was criticized by many South Africans and deepened concern about the country's economy and political leadership.

The National Prosecuting Authority said Monday that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who was due in court Wednesday, will not be prosecuted for approving an early retirement package for a former tax official who continued to work on contract.

Shaun Abrahams, director of the National Prosecuting Authority, says it would be difficult to prove that Gordhan intentionally acted in an unlawful way.

Abrahams has said the move against Gordhan was not politically motivated. However, there is speculation that government factions close to President Jacob Zuma want to undermine Gordhan and take control of the treasury.