South Africa's currency slumps after finance minister fired

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By taking the unusual step of swinging the axe without consulting senior members of the African National Congress (ANC), President Zuma plunged the ruling party into what analysts have called its worst crisis since the 1994 end to apartheid rule.

Pres Jacob Zuma's appointment of Malusi Gigaba as new minister of finance is part of the ongoing expansion of state capture by the Guptas and at the same time, the reinforcement of pres Zuma's faction within the ANC, said Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus.

South Africa's economy is in a fragile state and the country is trying to appease rating agencies and avert a sub-investment ratings downgrade.

The firing of Gordhan, who was seen as a bulwark against perceived efforts to raid state coffers for personal gain, is another blow an economy that grew just 0.5 percent previous year and has an unemployment rate of around 27 percent.

Fitch, one of two rating firms that rate South Africa's credit score just one notch above junk, said the reshuffle could weaken public finances and standards of governance if the fiscal consolidation championed by Gordhan became less of a priority.

"The cabinet reshuffle will heighten tensions within the ANC and increase political instability as the party focuses on its policy conference in June and leadership contest in December", Fitch said in a statement.

On Thursday, Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters approached the Constitutional Court in South Africa for the impeachment of Zuma.

That is according to Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) general secretary Dennis George, who was meant to join Gordhan in London on his investor roadshow on Tuesday.

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Opposition parties have called upon the people of South Africa to stage peaceful protests across the country against the move.

The sweeping cabinet changes were "not normal" and will further deepen the "serious public concern and unease" in the country, he said in the foundation's statement.

"I'm not new to government", he told reporters after the ceremony, at the at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.

Zuma's cabinet reorganisation rallied support, however, among powerful sections of the party that are hostile to banking interests they see Gordhan as representing.

The ANC, which was banned under white-minority rule, has lost popularity due to corruption allegations, record unemployment and slow economic growth.

Zuma had also appointed lawmaker Sfiso Buthelezi as deputy finance minister replacing Mcebisi Jonas.

The country's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa launched an unprecedented verbal attack on President Jacob Zuma, whose midnight reshuffle sent the rand currency plunging and triggered accusations that he was promoting graft.

A sudden drop in the rand and pressure from the business community forced Zuma to reverse course after four days and bring in Gordhan, who was finance minister from 2009 to 2014. His term extends into 2019 but the ANC is likely to choose his successor in December.

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