South African President Jacob Zuma reshuffles government, sparks controversy

March 31, 2017 5:30 pm

South African President (photo by AFP)

South ’s president
fired his respected finance minister early Friday in a move that spooked
investors this week and has sent the country’s currency tumbling.

President
Jacob Zuma’s replacement of Pravin Gordhan comes as part of a cabinet
shuffle that changes 10 of the country’s 35 ministers.
The new ministers will be sworn in later Friday.
Pressure
has been growing on Zuma to step down after he recalled Gordhan, who
has a strong reputation as a bulwark against corruption, from a trade
trip in London earlier this week.
The
recall caused ’s rand to lose nearly five percent, another
blow to Africa’s most industrialized economy that grew just 0.5 percent
last year.
Many South Africans had viewed Gordhan as a responsible steward of an economy facing possible credit rating downgrades.
Gordhan has been replaced by Malusi Gigaba, a former home affairs minister, a statement from the president’s office said.
South
Africa’s two main opposition parties took aim at the president on
Thursday, with one appealing to the highest court to order impeachment
proceedings and the other announcing it will launch a vote of no
confidence.
On Wednesday, Gordhan inspired a standing ovation at
the funeral of one of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid activists as
longtime leaders of the ruling African National Congress, the country’s
former liberation movement, called for Zuma to step down.

South
African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan attends the funeral of late
South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada at the Westpark
Cemetery in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)The new cabinet changes are “to improve efficiency and effectiveness,” the statement from Zuma’s office said.
But even allies of the ruling party had warned against replacing Gordhan.
The scandal-ridden Zuma in November last year survived an attempt by senior party members to oust him as president.
Earlier
last year, South Africa’s highest court found that Zuma had violated
his oath of office by refusing to abide by an order to pay back some of
the millions of dollars in public money spent on upgrading his rural
home.

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