South Africa's new finance minister vows 'radical' change

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Former South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a person of Indian origin (PIO), has slammed allegations that he held a secret meeting overseas in an attempt to undermine the country and its economy.

Repeated chants of "Zuma must go" echoed through Johannesburg City Hall, which was filled beyond capacity on Saturday for the memorial of Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid activist who was jailed with former South African President Nelson Mandela.

The ANC needs to be able to justify all its leadership decisions as a collective, he said, and previous decisions have ordinarily been handled that way.

Gordhan strongly criticised the Indian-South African Gupta family, who is said to have close ties with Zuma, for orchestrating a campaign to malign him, Jonas and democratic institutions in South Africa. Even his deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, called the move "totally, totally unacceptable".

As the recently departed US Ambassador to South Africa put it on Twitter, "Holy wow". Ramaphosa is seen as a likely candidate to succeed Zuma as ANC leader at the ruling party's conference in December. A factor leading to Gordhan's recall from global roadshow at short notice on Monday. "We have been accused of being captured by Pravin Gordhan, but we are captured by the values of our movement, the African National Congress", Mapaila said.

Gordhan was replaced by Malusi Gigaba, a former home affairs minister and ex-head of the ruling party's youth league.

As South Africa reels from the news of another Cabinet reshuffle overnight, the damage to business confidence and a renewed threat of a ratings downgrade should not be underestimated.

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"The long-term economic stability as well as the strength of our currency will be now placed in jeopardy if a motion of no confidence is tabled against President Zuma in Parliament and the South African Communist Party (part of the Tripartite Alliance) sticks to its threat to recall all ministers from Cabinet if President Zuma fires Gordhan".

Gordhan - who first served as finance minister between 2009 and 2014 - and Jonas were opposed to excessive spending and corruption in government. His appointment has created instability and uncertainty in relation to South Africa's economic future, reflected in a sharp surge in bond yields and the weakening of the rand, escalating the cost of borrowing and financing for South Africa.

"I am sure that when President [Nelson] Mandela became president of the country, he had the particular challenge that he had never presided over a country before; the same applied to [Trevor Manuel] the finance minister in 1996; the same applied to the now outgoing minister Pravin Gordhan and others before me".

Gordhan maintained that the hard work done by Treasury officials should not be undone.

"It is imperative that popular anger is mobilised and organised in constructive ways that unite South Africans of all persuasions and backgrounds in the defence of our country's interests", the party was quoted as saying. Opposition parties called for Zuma to resign; but analysts mostly predicted Zuma would survive the fallout after picking Gigaba to replace Gordhan, a more prudent choice than investors had feared, despite concern budget discipline would falter.

The party that liberated South Africa after decades of white minority oppression is deeply divided over Zuma and facing one of its biggest crises yet.

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