Gordhan eyed as Manuel's successor

Pravin Gordhan, head of South Africa’s tax authority, is the frontrunner to succeed Finance Minister Trevor Manuel if he is moved to another post in the new government, Business Day reported on Wednesday.

Business Day, citing unnamed sources in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said the party met with its leftist allies on Tuesday to discuss the makeup of the new Cabinet under Jacob Zuma, who will be inaugurated as president on May 9.

It said Manuel would either remain finance minister as a stopgap measure for two years or become head of a planning commission charged with coordinating policy implementation.

The ANC’s trade union and Communist Party allies are understood to oppose Manuel getting either post, said Business Day.

Manuel’s fate is crucial for investors. The rand fell 2,5% last year on reports that he had resigned but recovered quickly when he made clear he would stay on.

Analysts warn a move from the finance ministry by Manuel may disappoint markets seeking continuity amid a global economic crisis that looks to have pushed Africa’s biggest economy into its first recession in 17 years.

Investors also worry that Zuma will give in to pressure from ANC allies to spend more to help the poor and create jobs as payback for helping him rise to the presidency.

Manuel, widely respected by markets for tight control over spending and for instilling financial stability, has been in the position since 1996.

He has built up a strong team at the Treasury and presided over South Africa’s longest-ever growth period—a decade until the fourth quarter of 2008.—Reuters


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