Zuma Appoints Third Finance Minister In Days


South African President Jacob Zuma has replaced his finance minister for the second time in five days, as he struggles to maintain his dwindling popularity.

The appointment of Pravin Gordhan, who held the job between 2009 and 2014, was warmly welcomed by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

He replaces relatively unknown politician, David van Rooyen, who was installed in place of his predecessor Nhlanhla Nene last week.

Mr Nene was sacked by Mr Zuma on Wednesday.

The sacking had led to media speculation that Mr Zuma was protecting the chairwoman of state-owned South African Airways (SAA), Dudu Myeni, to whom he is said to be “close”.

On Saturday, the president took the unusual step of denying that a romantic relationship had anything to do with the move.

Mr Zuma was accused of sacking Mr Nene because the minister had prevented a move by the national carrier to renegotiate a plane-leasing deal with Airbus.

The president, who has four wives, issued an official statement rebutting rumours that he and Myeni were having an affair and had a child together.

Mr Nene had also refused to rubber-stamp spending on a huge nuclear power programme.

A selling frenzy in South Africa’s markets triggered by last week’s events wiped nearly $11bn (£7bn) off the value of shares.

It prompted the head of the country’s bourse, Nicky Newton-King, to say on Sunday that she was concerned about long-term financial stability.

The removal of Mr Nene, a veteran civil servant who was keen to rein in government spending, sent the rand to record lows – making the cost to South Africa, of servicing its debt, more expensive.

Mr Zuma said he had removed Mr van Rooyen so quickly because he was responding to representations.

He said: “I have received many representations to reconsider my decision. As a democratic government, we emphasise the importance of listening to the people and to respond to their views.”

The appointment of Mr Gordhan sent the rand surging by 5% in early trading on Monday.