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.
A statement from the president’s office just after midnight on Thursday, following days of speculation, announced the sacking of Pravin Gordhan and his replacement with home affairs head Malusi Gigaba
The move pushed the rand more than 3 percent weaker while yields on South Africa’s dollar-denominated sovereign debt rose as fears of a credit rating downgrade to subinvestment intensified.
ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe said in a radio interview that the process followed to axe Gordhan and eight other ministers made him “jittery and uncomfortable”.
“We were given a list that was complete, and in my own view as a secretary I felt like this list has been developed somewhere else and was given to us to legitimise it,” Mantashe told Talk Radio 702.
South Africa’s Banking Association said changing the finance minister and deputy finance minister raised “alarming concerns” over fiscal discipline.
ANC ally, the South African Communist Party (SACP), said the firing of Gordhan, who was respected by investors locally and aboard as a champion of fiscal responsibility, risked triggering the looting of treasury.
A group of the country’s leading chief executives said on Friday that Gordhan’s dismissal would have severe consequences for the economy and was a setback to the work done to avoid a credit ratings downgrade.
“It raises question marks about President Zuma’s leadership and the motives behind this cabinet reshuffle,” said director at Political Futures Consultancy Daniel Silke.
South Africa’s new ministers and deputy ministers will be sworn in at 1600 GMT on Friday, President Jacob Zuma’s office said.