Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said on Friday that President Jacob Zuma’s dismissal of the stellar team at the finance ministry constituted an “assault on the poor” of South Africa.
Zuma fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and replaced him with Malusi Gigaba, the former minister of home affairs, in a dramatic midnight Cabinet reshuffle.
Gordhan’s deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, was also axed and replaced by Sifiso Buthelezi, Zuma’s former adviser, when he was still economic development MEC in KwaZulu-Natal between 1994 and 1999.
The dramatic axing of Treasury’s most senior duo has been widely criticised by opposition parties and civic organisations as handing over the keys of the State coffers to Zuma’s circle of friends, the Gupta family and its business empire.
The rand weakened about four percent to a three-week low on the back of Gordhan’s axing, trading at about R13.57/$, R16.93/£ and R14.51/€ respectively. The move leaves South Africa on the brink of a much-feared ratings downgrade.
In a statement, Makgoba said the poor stood to lose as the country cannot raise foreign investment to finance growth and interest rates gobbles up the country’s resources.
“Who stands to gain when corrupt elites enrich themselves on the side while doing deals worth billions of rand with state-owned enterprises? The people of suburbs like Saxonwold,” Makgoba said.
“Ignorance can be educated, but there is no cure for recklessness. The President’s decisions are a frightening example of a leader who has continually showed his profound indifference to the economic health of South Africa. It is telling that he failed to secure agreement to this reckless move even from within his own party and the ruling alliance.”
Makgoba said when this last happened, Gordhan and his team swung into gallant action mobilising society in a campaign to regain the battered confidence of investors.
“All of this good work is now in danger of being reversed at one fell swoop,” Makgoba said.
“I hope the ruling party will reflect on how they are betraying the hopes of our people and take appropriate action. Civil society too will have to consider for how long we stand by helplessly and watch the gains of our democracy destroyed.”
Leaders of two tripartite alliance members – the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Communist Party (SACP) – are scheduled to hold separate meetings after a late night Cabinet reshuffle by Zuma.
– African News Agency (ANA)