South Africa has seen the position of its finance minister occupied by three different individuals within the space of a week, a shocking series of appointments that have thrown the country’s economy into disarray. President Jacob Zuma on Sunday announced the appointment of Pravin Gordhan as the head of the country’s Finance Ministry, barely four days after Nhlanhla Nene was ousted and replaced by little known David van Rooyen.
The president’s U-turn has been attributed to a mixture of public pressure and the rand dropping to its lowest ever rate against the US dollar, leaving him with little choice but to intervene.
Political analyst, Andre Duvenhage says Zuma has effectively become persona non grata within his own country as a result of the untimely and costly reshuffle.
“I believe that under the circumstances, within the context of crisis management it was probably one of his better decisions (to reverse the decision), and we have seen the recovery of the rand within literally a few hours (of Gordhan’s appointment),” he explains.
Despite the temporary respite, Duvenhage stresses that the country still faces several pressing concerns, including the status of the controversial SAA/Airbus and nuclear power deals, two of the main factors thought to be behind Nene’s departure.
Whilst declining markets are believed to have played a part in Zuma’s U-turn, Duvenhage suspects the political risks of the move placed the president in a difficult position and spurred the change.
“There were rumours going around the some of his ministers wanted to resign and there was also criticism coming from Cosatu and the SACP. There was not only a problem within the external political environment of South Africa, it also became a problem within the internal structures of the ANC and tripartite alliance,” he suggests.
“It is clear that the ANC and the president are going to pay the price for this. I believe if we wondered in the past about the position of the president, it is clear there is not going to be a third term for Zuma as ANC president,” he adds. VOC