On 13 December President Jacob Zuma announced that Pravin Gordhan would replace David van Rooyen as finance minister.
The decision followed Zuma’s shock announcement on 9 December that Nhlanhla Nene had been removed from the finance portfolio in Cabinet.
According to Matshiqi, Zuma only changed his mind after he realized his position was under threat.
Matshiqi said Zuma first asked Nene to return to his position, but that Nene “politely declined”.
He said there were rumours on Friday that Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa threatened to resign due to Zuma’s “economic sabotage”.
How the Presidency explained the decision
The Presidency said that Zuma received many representations to reconsider his decision on Nene, which encouraged him to move Gordhan to the finance portfolio.
The full statement from the Presidency is provided below.
On the 9th of December 2015, I announced the appointment of a new Minister of Finance, Mr David van Rooyen.
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.
In this regard, I have, after serious consideration and reflection, taken the following decision;
I have appointed Mr Pravin Gordhan, the current Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as the new Minister of Finance.
Minister Gordhan will return to a portfolio that he had held proficiently during the fourth administration.
He will lead government again in the following;
- Ensuring an even stronger alignment between the Budget and the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) in the interest of stimulating more inclusive growth and accelerated job creation while continuing the work of ensuring that our debt is stabilised over the medium term.
- Promoting and strengthening the fiscal discipline and prudence that has characterised our management of public finances since the dawn of freedom.
- Working with the financial sector so that its stability is preserved under the broad umbrella of the Twin Peaks reform.
- Ensuring that the National Treasury is more acceptable to all sections of our society.
- Adherence to the set expenditure ceiling while maintaining a stable trajectory of our debt portfolio, as set out in the February 2015 Budget.