Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- President Jacob Zuma has reshuffled his cabinet in a late-night announcement on Thursday. Among the ministers given the chop is finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, who were seen as prime targets in the move. Gordhan was replaced by Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba, while Jonas was replaced by Sifiso Buthelezi. The full list of changes can be seen here.
- Today is D-day for the Gupta family associates who are seeking to start South Africa’s first black-owned bank – with it being the deadline for the duo to get approval from National Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the minister of finance to approve its application to merge Vardospan and Habib Overseas Bank. Vardospan owners Hamza Farooqui and Salim Essa are associates of the Gupta family, but deny that the looming deadline had anything to do with Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle.
- Analysts and economists have highlighted areas to keep an eye on next in the wake of the reshuffle – specifically the rand and the reaction from markets once they open for trade; the response from ratings agencies, which may cut the country to junk status; and the response from anti-Zuma factions both inside and outside the party. Much uncertainty lingers.
- Civil action groups have called for public protest, following the axing of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister – with Save SA calling the move an outrage and a “Gupta coup”, saying it was a call to action for citizens to protest, while former Cosatu General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has called for a peaceful march to Treasury.
- Following Zuma’s reshuffle, the rand has been placed on the back foot, and awaits further response once local and international markets open for trade. From trading at 20-month highs at the start of the week – R12.32 to the dollar – the rand tanked after the reshuffle to around R13.40 to the dollar. At 6am on Friday, the currency was trading at R13.47 to the dollar, R16.82 to the pound and R14.38 to the euro, with expectations it will get worse.