SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma sacked his finance minister and made ten new cabinet appointments late Thursday in a shocking reshuffle which could split the ruling ANC party.
The African National Congress, which led the fight against apartheid and came to power under Nelson Mandela in 1994, was rocked by the clear-out of senior figures including finance minister, Pravin Gordhan.
The late-night move caused a sharp drop in the value of rand as investors reacted to concerns that Zuma, who has been tainted by corruption scandals, had secured a free hand over government finances.
Gordhan was replaced by home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba after a months-long battle with Zuma over government spending.
The president said in a statement that the changes were “to bring about radical socio-economic transformation and to ensure that the promise of a better life for the poor and the working class becomes a reality.”
In his power struggle with Zuma, Gordhan was supported by several ministers and many international investors, as well as being widely admired by ordinary South Africans and veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle.
He campaigned for budget discipline and against corruption, but Zuma’s allies have accused him of thwarting the president’s desire to enact radical policies supposed to tackle racial inequality.