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

President Zuma reshuffles cabinet

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

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma sacked five ministers and 10 deputy ministers late on Thursday in a major cabinet reshuffle following days of speculation that had jolted the country's markets and currency.

South African President Jacob Zuma faced heavy criticism after replacing his influential finance minister and nine other ministers Friday, a purge that many saw as an attempt by the beleaguered leader to consolidate his authority amid a wave of scandals and power struggles.

According to a report in CNN Money on Friday, investors were already fretting about Africa's second biggest economy after Zuma ordered now former finance minister Gordhan to cancel a series of meetings in London on Monday and return home.

The media in South Africa reported that the move pushed the rand more than 3% weaker while yields on South Africa's dollar-denominated sovereign debt rose as fears surfaced again of a sovereign credit rating downgrade on South African bonds. Gordhan's firing is another blow an economy that grew just 0.5 per cent previous year and has an unemployment rate of around 27 per cent.

"Any undoing of confidence or decline of rating status of country will hurt ordinary South Africans".

"The cabinet reshuffle will heighten tensions within the ANC and increase political instability as the party focuses on its policy conference in June and leadership contest in December", Fitch said in a statement. "In the longer term, however, it may lead to the downfall of Zuma and his patronage, which will certainly be a good thing for South Africa", said economist Dawie Roodt.

Al Jazeera's Fahmida Miller, reporting from Pretoria, said protestors outside the National Treasury in the capital were angry with "yet another presidential decision they say only serves Zuma's interest". The television channel also said that Sfiso Buthelezi was appointed to replace Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas. They are demanding that Zuma steps down before he further damages the country.

Mapaila said that if Zuma fires Gordhan the South African Communist Party's seven Cabinet members would resign from Zuma's Cabinet of 35 ministers. The ANC's chief parliamentary whip, Jackson Mthembu, said Mr. Zuma had fired the "incorruptible" cabinet members because they refused to "sell their soul".

Mkhize called the so-called "intelligence report" cited as the reason for the recall "dubious at the least", and bemoaned the negative public image and undesirable effects on the country's economy.

Earlier this week, Zuma ordered Gordhan to return home from a trip to the United Kingdom, triggering rumors of a reshuffle.

"The appointment of Fikile Mbalula as minister of police is evidence that pres Zuma is not serious about combating crime".

The comments by Ramaphosa, who usually publicly backs Zuma, were a sign of deepening divisions in the ANC that are likely to worsen until the party elects a new leader in December.

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