South Africa: Big Political Challenge Could Present Opportunity

Earlier in the week, Gordhan was ordered home from an investor roadshow of the United Kingdom and the U.S. after Zuma allegedly received a security dossier claiming that Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas - who has also been sacked - were plotting to overthrow the government during their trip. Share prices of South African's top four banks plunged more than 5% in early trade.

Softly-spoken and measured in public, but tough behind the scenes, 67-year-old Gordhan earned an global reputation for fiscal prudence and for taking a firm stand against corruption. He first served as finance minister between 2009 and 2014, and returned to the job in December 2015, much to the relief of global investors.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has sacked the country's Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, after days of speculation that rocked the country's markets and currency. "Holy wow. Midnight ministerial massacre in South Africa", former U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard tweeted.

Earlier this week, Zuma ordered Gordhan to return home from a trip to the United Kingdom, triggering rumors of a reshuffle.

Pravin Gordhan was seen by many as a safe pair of hands when it came to managing the economy.

Gordhan is being replaced by Malusi Gigaba, a former home affairs minister.

He was seen as a bulwark against corruption in an administration that is facing growing criticism. The country's main opposition party said it would challenge the move in court.

Thursday night's sacking shook markets and divided the ruling party.

Gordhan will be replaced by Malusi Gigaba, said a statement issued late on Thursday by the President's office. His replacement is likely to lead the country if, as widely predicted, the party wins elections due in 2019.

The rand nosedived 4% against the USA dollar after President Jacob Zuma ousted Pravin Gordhan and a slew of other top ministers overnight, tipping the country into a new round of political turmoil and economic uncertainty.

Speakers at Ahmed Kathrada's memorial echoed the struggle icon's call for an overhaul of the ANC along with President Zuma's resignation.

Zuma's deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, criticised the President's decision to fire Gordhan.

The DA also is pushing for a vote of no-confidence in Zuma, who has survived similar votes in the ANC-dominated parliament in the past.

Mcebsi Jonas, ANC party leader in Parliament, commented that the ousted cabinet members' "crime is incorruptibility".

Kathrada's wife, Barbara Hogan, a former minister, called on Zuma to respect her husband's wishes expressed in a letter to the president previous year to resign, saying he would not be able to withstand the will of a "people united".

The government has reshuffled 10 of the country's 35 ministers, which has created a sense of unease in South Africa.

The South African Communist Party has dropped a bombshell on its alliance partner the African National Congress, calling on the governing party to choose between the country and, the wealthy and politically connected Gupta family.

Zuma's office on Saturday denied he was responsible, and Ramaphosa's spokesman, Ronnie Mamoepa, admitted that the deputy president had actually asked that it be postponed "under the current political climate".

"The question is if the damage will take the form of an immediate crisis in terms of a collapsing rand, or if it will play out over a longer period", Witwatersrand University's Glaser said.

  • Leroy Wright