According to News24, President Jacob Zuma has just fired finance minister Pravin Gordhan, after days of speculation. African National Congress (ANC) member of parliament Sfiso Norbert Buthelezi has been named as Gordhan’s likely replacement.
This comes after the President called Gordhan home from an investment roadshow in London on Monday, 27 March. Several other ministers and deputy ministers, including public enterprises minister Lynne Brown, tourism minister Derek Hanekom, and social development minister Bathabile Dlamini have also been sacked or redeployed, according to News24. Twitterbro and joker in chief Fikile Mbalula (apparently our now-former sports minister) has reportedly been appointed Minister of Police.
The Mail & Guardian, meanwhile, reported that Gordhan was fired at 21:22 in an article titled “Report: President Jacob Zuma has fired finance minister, Pravin Gordhan”. Confirmation of Gordhan’s firing was only around 22:19, according to News24.
The market is expected to react negatively to the news, once again manifesting the shocking indirect power a human resources decision in the halls of government can have on the broader economy. Meanwhile, South Africans continue to place blame with the person of Jacob Zuma, rather than the immense power which the office of the President and the finance ministry wields.
As I opined in December 2015:
“Gordhan, a communist, will at least not be perceived as a total puppet to the whims of Jacob Zuma. But as I have pointed out repeatedly, in our style and system of government, the President, and moreover the ruling party’s National Executive Committee, will always get what they want in the end.”
The SA Communist Party has made its displeasure about Gordhan’s sacking clear, with some political analysts speculating that the Tripartite Alliance itself will fall apart. Gordhan is a SACP stalwart.
Buthelezi has been a member of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance since April 2016, and the former Chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa Board. According to News24, Buthelezi is known for “criticising National Treasury for not taking a tougher stance against corporates“.
There have been reports that Jacob Zuma has agreed to resign next year in exchange for condonation of his decision to sack Gordhan by fellow NEC members.
An official announcement by government is expected soon.