South African president Jacob Zuma faced a widening public backlash from senior members of the ruling African National Congress including his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Friday after firing his finance minister as part of sweeping cabinet changes announced overnight.
“I have made my views known and there are quite a number of other colleagues and comrades who are unhappy about the situation, particularly the removal of the minister of finance,” Mr Ramaphosa told South Africa’s public broadcaster.
Pravin Gordhan, widely seen as a competent manager of one of the world’s most important emerging economies, was reportedly sacked because of an intelligence report that he was allegedly trying to undermine his government.
“For him to be removed for this type of reasoning is to me unacceptable,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
Mr Gordhan had been at loggerheads with the president for months, receiving support from several ministers and major foreign investors, as well as many ordinary South Africans and veterans of the ANC’s struggle against apartheid.
He campaigned for budget discipline and against corruption, but Mr Zuma’s allies have accused the minister of thwarting the president’s desire to enact radical policies to tackle racial inequality that has persisted since the ANC came to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela.