Former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has been named as South Africa’s new finance minister, following the axing of Pravin Gordhan late Thursday night as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.
Gigaba has seven years of cabinet experience, and has previously served as Public Enterprises minister and most recently Home Affairs minister.
His new deputy in the finance portfolio is understood to be ANC MP Sfiso Buthelezi, who will be replacing Mcebisi Jonas.
The rand suffered heavy losses against the major currencies:
- Dollar/Rand down 2.81% to R13.40
- Pound/Rand down 3.04% to R16.68
- Euro/Rand down 2.00% to R14.32
Exiting finance minister Pravin Gordhan was one of nine ministers to be fired on Thursday, following days of speculation. Analysts say president Jacob Zuma has been trying to get rid of Gordhan since 2015.
News24 reported that additional ministers in the firing line included Blade Nzimande (minister for Higher Education and Training), Ebrahim Patel (minister of Economic Development), David Mahlobo (minister of State Security), Aaron Motsoaledi (minister of Health) and minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies.
Gordhan has been a thorn in the side of Zuma’s ambitions to move forward on various programmes and contracts, including the widely criticised nuclear deal, as well as government bailouts for state owned companies run by his deployees.
The former finance minister has also been a strong opponent to the president’s friends, the Guptas, who have faced massive backlash for their proximity to the president, and their business interests with government.
Almost exactly one year ago, Gordhan’s deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, ignited the state capture scandal by claiming that the Gupta family had approached him and offered him R600 million and the position of finance minister if he would help secure billions of rands worth of government contracts for the family.
Controversially, Gigaba is seen as being aligned with the Gupta family, and is said to have been acting at their behest in an ongoing battle with the Oppenheimer family over a luxury point of entry into South Africa, namely the Fireblade terminal.
Gigaba has been accused of blocking the Oppenheimers from permission to use the terminal for international landings, making the business run at a loss, priming it for acquisition by the Gupta family, who have expressed interest in it.
The minister has denied the allegations, saying that the terminal raises concerns around security, and it would be questionable to allow any private family operate a port of entry into the country.
He has further denied being ‘captured’ by the Gupta family.
All eyes will be on Gigaba to see if he will help push through a deal which will allow the Gupta family associates to start their own bank.