The decision to replace David van Rooyen only four days after being appointed minister of finance will raise a lot of questions, analyst Ebrahim Fakir said on Sunday night.
He was reacting to the news late on Sunday that former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has been recalled to his old post to replaced the relatively unknown Van Rooyen, who was abruptly appointed as Nhlanhla Nene’s replacement.
Fakir said President Jacob Zuma would now be seen as someone who does not know what he is doing and is giving into pressure. He however added that it was not such a bad thing to give into pressure.
“The dicey thing now is that people will start to think the president doesn’t know what he is doing, he is politically weakened, but that is not a bad thing. We don’t want an over-excessive configuration of power in the president. We don’t want such an executive monarch, we want someone who is responsive and that is what he has been,” said Fakir.
“Irrespective if this was even about saving his own skin in that the ANC saying we are reading you the riot act, it’s still a positive thing because he has proven to be responsive.”
The Presidency confirmed on Sunday that the two ministers would be swapping seats. Van Rooyen was appointed on Wednesday and sworn in on Thursday after Nene was unceremoniously removed. His appointment sent the markets on a downward spiral with the rand plummeting to its lowest level years.
Given a chance
Fakir questioned the rationale behind the move and said Van Rooyen should have been given a chance to show what he could do. He also questioned the reaction of the markets following his appointment.
“The tragedy is that you appoint a guy and the guy has not even been given a chance. What if Van Rooyen would have been a sterling minister? It’s ridiculous sentiments based on nothing that drove the rand down. The markets need to get serious. They have proven they are not.
“They are underpinned by very little rational, genuine thinking based on evidence and what is before them. What did they have, what was the basis to say everything has gone to pot? Was it because the guy appointed someone else?
“Now they are getting what they want, let’s test and see if they genuinely put their money where their mouth is because if what they say is true, then Gordhan’s appointment should drive sentiments up which should be restoring confidence,” he said.
Fakir called on South Africans to view Zuma’s move as a sign of a leader listening to what he was being told, irrespective of where the pressure was coming from. He however admitted Zuma missed the mark by removing Nene at the time and manner he did.
“The upshot here is that you have someone who is responsive to pressure irrespective of where that pressure is coming from. It seems to me that you can’t win anyway.
“I think it was a bad appointment. The timing was bad, the way in which he went about it was bad but there was no sound rational reasoning to why the market should have responded so negatively.
“It was purely perception,” said Fakir.