By Tony | March 31, 2017
South Africa: President Zuma reshuffles cabinet, sacks Minister of Finance and his deputy.
31 March 2017
President Zuma has made many changes to his cabinet. It is a controversial reshuffle and the main focus is that he has dismissed the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy Mcebisi Jonas. The new Finance Minister is Malusi Gigaba who was the Home Affairs minister and prior to that Minister for Public Enterprise. Those supportive of President Zuma support the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan arguing he was a block on speeding up transformation of the economy so it delivered more and more quickly to the poor and disadvantaged in South Africa. However many others say Pravin Gordhan has been dismissed as he challenged waste and corruption and in particularly refused the treasury providing guarantees on loans in connection with a proposed $100 billion nuclear power programme and $624million leasing facility for South African Airways. They believe these are deals that those with strong connections to the President want to happen as they stand to benefit financially. Pravin Gordhan was known to be critical of the role and influence of the Gupta family on leading members of the government and ANC and some see his removal as strengthening their influence. The Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed concern at the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan but confirmed he would not resign from the cabinet. The General Secretary of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe said they were informed but not consulted on the changes and it felt as if the list of the changes had been drawn up elsewhere. He expressed concern that Ministers who were performing well had been dismissed and some who had not been kept in the cabinet.
The cabinet reshuffle included many other changes with some ministers moving from one ministry to another.
The reshuffle exposes widening rifts in the government and the ANC. A number of prominent veterans of the ANC including Rivonia trialist and close friend of Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, who served more than 26 years in prison and died on 28 March have called on President Zuma to resign. A number of civil society groups including Save South Africa are planning marches and symbolic acts also calling on the President to step down.
The immediate impact of the cabinet reshuffle was to reduce the value of the rand on world markets and increase the cost of South Africa borrowing.