By Sam Mkokeli
FORMER South African ministers banished to political wilderness under former President Jacob Zuma’s administration are set to make a comeback as his successor prepares to revive the stagnant economy.
The ruling African National Congress’s top-six officials, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, will meet on Friday to discuss changes to the cabinet, according to three people who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, who Zuma appointed in March last year when he had no experience in economics, tax, or banking, is among those who will be affected in the shake-up that’s expected to be announced next week, they said. Gigaba will deliver his first full budget to lawmakers on Wednesday. Among those touted to come back are former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. They lost their positions in the March midnight Cabinet shuffle that led to a credit-ratings downgrade and a sell-off of the country’s currency and bonds. The two, who were widely respected by investors, became part of a campaign against ‘state capture,’ a term used in South Africa to describe allegations that Zuma ceded control of the state to the Gupta brothers, who are his friends and business associates of his son, Duduzane. They all deny wrongdoing. “It is the prerogative of the president to change cabinets; of course there will be those engagements by the top leadership,” ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said by phone. Tyrone Seale, the presidency’s acting spokesman, didn’t immediately answer a call to his mobile phone.
Zuma’s nine-year term ended last week when the National Executive Committee of the ANC instructed him to resign as head of state in order for Ramaphosa to take over. Ramaphosa could also appoint Nhlanhla Nene, another finance minister that Zuma fired and replaced with a little-known lawmaker in 2015, to the cabinet, the people said. Nene declined to comment. After the rand plunged Zuma backtracked, appointing Gordhan to the post, one he’d held from 2009 to 2014, four days later.
Zweli Mkhize, who until December was the ANC’s treasurer-general, is among the names Ramaphosa is said to be considering, the people said. The party’s top officials as well as its communist and labor-federation allies must discuss the list of new appointees. -bloomberg.com
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