South Africa’s President Finally Sacks Finance Minister In a Cabinet Reshuffle


Over the years, South Africa has experienced economic and political instability. President Jacob Zuma’s sack of his respected Finance Minister in an overnight cabinet purge is the peak of it.

The ANC-led government had carefully managed succession in the Finance Ministry since 1994. This reassured the markets and gave investors confidence that, despite maladministration and corruption in other departments, at least the treasury was in steady hands. That confidence has been fading out recently. In December 2015, South Africa’s p
President Jacob Zuma fired the respected Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister, who was replaced with an inexperienced one. After some days in office, a combination of collapsing currency and pressure from within the ANC forced him to change course and led him to appoint Gordhan, who had held the job before. Last year Zuma loyalists in the national prosecuting authority brought fraud charges against Mr Gordhan that were soon dropped due to lack of evidence.

Finally, in a press statement released recently, President Zuma announced that he was shuffling 20 posts in his cabinet, and that the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, would be replaced.

He further explained in the statement that the reshuffle was intended “to bring about radical socioeconomic transformation and to ensure that the promise of a better life for the poor and the working class becomes a reality”.

The president also said the cabinet shuffle was intended “to improve efficiency and effectiveness”, and to “bring some younger MPs and women” into the mix. Political analysts believe it has more to do with Mr Zuma rewarding loyalists and shoring up his preferred successor. Also, Zuma gave a short speech in the poor Eastern Cape province, reportedly telling the audience his administration was “very busy trying to fix what is wrong with the country”.

The president is currently facing 783 corruption charges. National Congress (ANC) have spoken out in support of Mr Gordhan, and business leaders have warned that firing him could cause South Africa’s credit rating to be cut to junk. Despite all of these, he still stands on his ground to sack him.

However, Local papers reported that a paranoid president acted after he had been given a half-baked “intelligence report” alleging that Mr Gordhan was meeting foreign bankers to gather their support for a conspiracy to force Mr Zuma out.

The new finance minister, Malusi Gigaba, is seen as loyal to Zuma whose previous role was a home affairs minister. During his reign, he was said to have introduced confusing new immigration rules that caused a drop in tourist arrivals.

In addition, Analysts say Zuma has struggled to live up to the standards of previous leaders of the ANC, such as Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, who was president from 1999 to 2008. “Compared to past ANC leaders, Zuma falls far short – and he’s aware of it and extremely sensitive,” said Mari Harris, a political analyst at Ipsos South Africa. “He’s tried to purge his cabinet of people who are opposition and put in a lot of yes-men.”

Gwede Mantashe, the ANC secretary general, said the way in which the cabinet reshuffle had been handled had made him “uncomfortable”. He further said: “The president came with a list. (He) said, ‘you can comment if you want to comment, but this is my decision’.”

The CEO Initiative, a coalition of top business leaders, said it was “gravely concerned and disappointed by the ill-timed and irrational dismissal”. In a statement, it said: “This decision, and the manner in which it was taken, is likely to cause severe damage to an economy that is in dire need of growth and jobs.”

President Zuma had confirmed that the dismissal will bring many positive changes to the country whereas, most of the citizens are not happy with such decision. They all stand in the hope to experience these positive changes or the other side of it.

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