South Africa's new finance minister vows 'radical' change

Trevor Jackson
April 8, 2017

A key figure in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) joined business and political leaders in condemning President Jacob Zuma's late night decision to fire his finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle that has rocked South Africa's markets and currency.

But he says this is to ensure such decisions can be owned, justified and defended by the party's leadership collective.

Zuma is a close friend of the controversial Gupta family who run a business empire from which all South African banks, among others, have disassociated themselves.

His move to replace Pravin Gordhan with Gigaba drew widespread criticism. "Nothing has to be manufactured in order to create an environment where your integrity has to be undermined and we need to be discredited in order to justify some objective outside of the real intent", he said. Opposition leader Mmusi Maimane said he already received messages of support from ANC members who sad they would side with the Democratic Alliance.

Much of the anger on Friday was focused on the fact that Mr. Zuma had cited a dubious and poorly written "intelligence report" as his justification for firing his finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas.

Mkhize admits that there is a discomfort concerning circumstances of the recall of Gordhan and Jonas from an important global investment promotion tour, the subsequent surfacing of an alleged intelligence report and, as a outcome, the negative public image and possible undesirable effects on the country's economy, all of which the ANC as the ruling party has to take responsibility for.

"I don't come here gung-ho with an agenda to change the director-general (DG)", he said, referencing Lungisa Fuzile who was part of a tight team with Gordhan and Jonas.

ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine has however praised the cabinet changes calling the new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba "experienced and intelligent".

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Gordhan first served as finance minister between 2009 and 2014.

Zuma appointed Gordhan in December 2015 after dismissing two finance ministers in the previous week.

"Ordinary South Africans shouldn't pay the price for any nonsense created elsewhere", he said.

He took small dig at his predecessor, saying those coming in and leaving the positions should work to maintain stability.

Despite mulling over SACP ministers' resignations last week, the party said they would stay in place for the time being due to their "responsibility to serve a massive constituency and the country at large - now more than ever".

The party that liberated South Africa after decades of white minority oppression is deeply divided over Zuma and facing one of its biggest crises yet.

Zuma's decision to fire Pravin Gordhan, with whom he feuded over control of state finances, brought to the open South Africa's biggest political crisis in nearly a decade. Opposition parties called for Zuma to resign; but analysts mostly predicted Zuma would survive the fallout after picking Gigaba to replace Gordhan, a more prudent choice than investors had feared, despite concern budget discipline would falter.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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