South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma sacked finance minister Pravin Gordhan in a major cabinet reshuffle after days of speculation that has rocked the country’s markets and currency, replacing him with home affairs head Malusi Gigaba.
A statement from the president’s office early on Friday said Zuma had also appointed Sfiso Buthelezi as Deputy Finance Minister, replacing Mcebisi Jonas. Zuma also made changes to ten of the country’s 35 ministries, including energy, police, and tourism. He brought in new faces and moved some ministers to new portfolios.
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 South Africa’s rand to lose nearly 5 percent.
Many South Africans had viewed Gordhan as a responsible steward of an economy facing possible credit rating downgrades. Frustration has been growing with Zuma after numerous allegations of corruption.
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 in Zuma.
“Zuma has bowed to the whims of those who determined to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and jobless,” the country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, tweeted after the announcement. The party on Thursday said it would launch a vote of no confidence in Zuma in parliament.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party applied to the country’s highest court on Thursday to order parliament to begin impeachment proceedings against the president for lying to the legislative body.
The EFF called it “a last resort,” with party leader Julius Malema accusing parliament, which is dominated by the African National Congress (ANC), of failing in its duty to hold the president accountable.
On Wednesday, Gordhan inspired a standing ovation at the funeral of Ahmed Kathrada, one of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid activists, as longtime leaders of the ruling ANC called for Zuma to step down. The outcry by funeral-goers including the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, further exposed the ruling party’s divide.
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