South Africans face uncertain future as Zuma "reshuffles" Gordham

Outgoing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas speak outside Treasury after being axed in a Cabinet reshuffle

South Africans face uncertain future as Zuma "reshuffles" Gordham

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - South Africa's new finance minister said Saturday he is aware of the "climate of sharp disagreement and mutual suspicion" as his predecessor's firing deepens a split in the country's ruling party, and he promised to "radically transform" the economy to reach out to people long marginalized.

Weak economic growth and tensions within the ruling party African National Congress have put South Africa's investment grade credit rating at risk.

"I'm very uncomfortable because areas where ministers do not perform have not been touched", Gwede Mantashe, the influential ANC secretary general, said.

What's behind South African finance minister's sacking?

"I will not be distracted by external issues", Gigaba, who was previously Home Affairs minister, said. And for the first time, I also want to say to you what I said when I was asked to take this job?

Zuma's decision to fire Pravin Gordhan, with whom he feuded over control of state finances, brought to the open South Africa's biggest political crisis in nearly a decade.

The party said that it was not calling for Mr Zuma to go as part of "a struggle against an individual", but instead "a struggle against a network of parasitism and patronage in defence of our hard-won democratic sovereignty". Zuma has accused Gordhan of standing in the way of radical economic transformation, in which the state is a dominant player. Zuma appointed him for the same portfolio after sacking two other finance ministers within a month.

Rumors Zuma was to replace Gordhan have unsettled markets all week and ANC members urged the president to reconsider. Banking stocks were down more than 5 percent on Friday and bond yields climbed sharply. Both parties have filed separate motions of no confidence in Zuma, but multiple previous motions have failed to pass, as loyalists in the ANC have stuck by the embattled president. In 2016 the country's Constitutional Court ruled Zuma violated his oath of office by refusing to return government funding used to upgrade his private home.

Continued political instability that adversely affects standards of governance, the economy or public finances, was one of the ratings sensitivities Fitch highlighted in November when it revised the outlook on South Africa's BBB- rating to negative from stable.

Another former supporter who was instrumental in Zuma's rise to power, union leader Zwelinzima Vavi, wants South Africans to march to the Treasury to object the reshuffle.

A government source said: "they were told last night or this morning to come back... the presidency did not give permission for the trip".

"At its worst point, the rand sold off against the U.S. dollar by over 6 percent relative to its firmest point the afternoon prior to the cabinet reshuffle, but it remains stronger than levels seen at the beginning of the year".

The EFF called it "a last resort", with party leader Julius Malema accusing parliament, which is dominated by the ANC, of failing in its duty to hold the president accountable.

The deputy president said he had already expressed his dissatisfaction to Zuma.

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