South African president sacks finance minister over alleged disloyalty; calls for midnight reshuffle
By April Kirstin Chua
South African president, Jacob Zuma, has sacked finance minister Pravin Gordhan along with nine other ministers, who were reportedly disloyal to his political intentions. The unprecedented move affected the country's financial markets with the currency plunging five percent in value.
Gordhan was admired for his upright beliefs such as standing up and fighting corruption against Zuma. He was one of the victims over the president's change of cabinet members. Zuma called for the midnight reshuffle, on Thursday, as a "radical socio-economic transformation". Many, however, felt that the sacking was unacceptable.
More than a 'midnight' buzz
Pravin Gordhan has been playing on the safe side when it comes to managing South Africa's economy. He rejected calls from the president and enforced tight measures on spending so as to increase the government's funds. Notably, this is the second time he has served as a finance minister. He served from 2009 to 2014 and reappointed in 2015 to replace David van Rooyen as per BBC.
Competent but disloyal?
Although several officials, even the public, admired Gordhan's competence as finance minister, he never really got along with Zuma, who has been struggling for control of the treasury since 2015. Zuma caught the attention of an intelligence report leaked to the media that claimed Gordhan was working in the interests of foreign banks and businessman than South Africa. It was reportedly alleged that he held meetings in London to undermine Zuma.
Gordhan dismissed the allegations as "absolute nonsense". Analysts, on the other hand, labeled the report as fake. According to a London-based analyst, Peter Attard Montalto, Gordhan's sudden dismissal was an open attack on the Treasury department to replace the conservatives alongside people who are disloyal to Zuma. Ultimately, this is a political issue with Zuma rewarding his loyalists.
New and loyal finance minister
Malusi Gigaba has replaced Gordhan as new finance minister, which marks him as fourth Treasury chief in just two years. Analysts claimed the appointment was due to his loyalty to Zuma. The former home affairs minister is a notably close ally of the South African president.
Gigaba has promised not to be distracted by the political issues but rather focus on radical economic change. "For too long, there has been a narrative or perception around treasury, that it belongs primarily and exclusively to 'orthodox' economists, big business, powerful interests and international investors. The ownership of wealth and assets remains concentrated in the hands of a small part of the population," he said in a statement.
Radical economic transformation
This would mean that wealth, land and opportunity will be redistributed to the black majority. Aside from that, Gigaba's pledge also suggested that the African National Congress will invest on populist economic measures to reverse previous electoral misfortunes as per The Guardian. The ANC has suffered a loss of major municipalities and has grown to be a concern for the upcoming 2019 elections.