Cabinet Reshuffle: On several occasions, President Jacob Zuma has downplayed and refuted several reports purporting that he will reshuffle his cabinet soon.
Once more, speculation of a cabinet reshuffle was triggered this morning shortly after the presidency cancelled an international roadshow embarked on by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Jonas Mcebisi, instructing them to return home.
With no specific reason or explanation, the presidency said in a one-sentence statement issued at 11:49am:
“President Jacob Zuma has instructed the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas to cancel the international investment promotion roadshow to the United Kingdom and the United States and return to South Africa immediately.”
Pravin Gordhan, his deputy Mcebisi Jonas and director-general Lungisa Fuzile were to travel to London, Boston and New York for a week-long non-deal investor roadshow. The roadshow is aimed at wooing investors.
Gordhan, who left South Africa on Sunday to lead a delegation that includes business executives and labour union representatives admitted receiving the presidency’s message on Monday morning.
The minister, however, said he is carrying on with the first leg of his plans to meet investors in London and would return to SA on Monday evening.
Now, the second leg of the roadshow – to the US – which would include Gordhan’s deputy Mcebisi Jonas, has been called off following instructions from the president. Jonas was set to leave for the US tonight.
The London tour was meant to take place on Monday and Tuesday, with the delegation then destined for the United States thereafter.
Speculations about the cabinet reshuffle continue to grow, in fact, the swearing in ANC newest MP and former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe added fuel to the speculation fire.
Molefe could also replace Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan or at least become his deputy once President Zuma makes a reshuffle, according to sources.
Reports also have it that Zuma’s ex-spouse Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stands a good chance of being enlisted for a cabinet position, having handing over the leadership of the African Union (AU) earlier this month – which opened the door for her to serve in a cabinet position.
Sharing the same sentiment, London-based Nomura emerging markets analyst Peter Attard Montalto said: “I believe today could be a test of the water to undertake a reshuffle.”
BuzzSouthAfrica learnt that the rand weakened by as much as 1.6 percent against the dollar to 12.6381 at 11:29 a.m. in Johannesburg, in a matter of an hour after the news broke out. According to the reports‚ Zuma stated that the visit was ‘unauthorised’.
Appalled by the report, the Democratic Alliance (DA) shared this on Twitter.
"If true this will trigger speculation of a cabinet reshuffle which will be detrimental to the economy."
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) March 27, 2017
Although Zuma continues to deny that there is a cold war between him and his finance minister, the president has apparently, showed on very many occasions that an uneasy relationship exists between him and Gordhan.
Last year, fraud charges brought against the minister badly rattled financial markets and spurred accusations of a political “witch-hunt”. They were dropped in October by the National Prosecuting Authority.
Earlier in 2016, he was investigated by the Hawks over allegations of a rogue unit at SARS.
President Jacob Zuma was reported to have said early last month that Treasury, which Gordhan heads, is standing in the way of transformation.
Gordhan took over the finance ministry in December 2015 after the appointment of Zuma’s favorite minister and little known politician Des Van Rooyen triggered a steep selloff in South African assets.