Confirmed: Presidency announces Gordhan out, Gigaba in as finance minister

President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that former Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba is the new finance minister, replacing Pravin Gordhan. His deputy is Sfiso Buthelezi, an ANC member of parliament, who has been long rumoured to replace Mcebisi Jonas.

In a statement released after midnight on Friday morning following a meeting of the ANC top six, Zuma said the Cabinet was reshuffled “to improve efficiency and effectiveness”.

“The changes bring some younger MPS and women into the National Executive in order to benefit from their energy, experience and expertise”.

Changes were also made in the ministries of energy, transport, police, public works, sports and recreation, tourism, public service, and communication.

Zuma’s announcement that Gordhan has been axed comes on the eve before the finance minister is due to approve a bid by Gupta-allies to buy Habib Bank. Major banks in South Africa have refused to do business with Gupta-owned companies, leaving them without a bank.

The job to approve the Gupta-Habib Bank deal will now fall on the shoulders of Gigaba, who is a known Zuma loyalist. In 2016, Gigaba referred to ANC veterans who called on Zuma to step down as “so-called stalwarts” who are “ill-disciplined”. In 2014, the Mail & Guardian revealed that state security agents had investigated a mysterious offshore bank account open in Gigaba’s name in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Mbalula is the new police minister
Before the Presidency made its announcement, an irritated Fikile Mbalula, the now former minister of sports and recreation, addressed rumours he would be police minister via his Twitter account.

“I’ve not being appointed anywhere am still minister of things Sport please STOP,” Mbalula tweeted.

Mbalula’s has now replaced Nathi Nhleko as the minister of police. Earlier in March, a high court ruled that Nhleko’s appointment of Berning Ntlemeza as Hawk’s boss was invalid. Mbalula, too, is a known Zuma loyalist.

The ministers who were ousted
Tourism minister Derek Hanekom, who is one of three ministers reported to have asked Zuma to step down during a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in late 2016, has also been fired. His replacement is the now former deputy minister of tourism, Tokozile Xasa.

Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson was also axed on Thursday night. Her replacement, Mmamoloko Kubayi, an ANC MP, will now be responsible for the nuclear deal with Russia, that could force South Africa to loan up to R1.2-trillion if it goes through.

The reaction to the speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle has seen the rand plunge by more than 3% on Thursday night. The Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane issued a statement immediately after Zuma announced the reshuffle, calling on Parliament to take action.

“It is Parliament who hired Jacob Zuma and it is Parliament that can can fire him,” Maimane said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Economic Freedom Fighters filed papers at the Constitutional Court requesting the court to Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete to begin the process for possible impeachment or a disciplinary procedure.

Zuma has faced increasing calls to step down or account for his actions since allegations of a state capture by the Gupta family emerged. In response to questions earlier on Thursday on whether Zuma would reshuffle the Cabinet, the president simply laughed.

Zuma has not yet provided detailed reasons on why each of the ministers and deputy ministers were axed.

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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