Johannesburg - South African President Jacob Zuma told senior leaders of the South African Communist Party that he plans to fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The rand plummeted.
Zuma told officials from the party, which is allied to his ruling African National Congress, during a meeting on Monday in Johannesburg, according to the people, who were present and asked not to be identified because a public statement has not been made. Zuma, 74, ordered Gordhan to cancel meetings with investors in the UK and the US and return home on Monday, a day after he had flown to London to begin the week-long roadshow.
A later meeting of the top six leaders of the ANC was to be held after the SACP gathering and it’s unclear of what happened in that discussion. Zizi Kodwa, a spokesman for the ANC, said the people were misinformed.
The rand weakened as much as 2.9 percent and was at 13.0043 to the dollar by 8:21 a.m. in Johannesburg.
Speculation that Gordhan is on the verge of being fired has swirled for months, as he clashed with Zuma over the management of state companies and the national tax agency.
While Gordhan has led efforts to keep spending in check and fend off a junk credit rating, Zuma wants to embark on “radical economic transformation” that he says will tackle racial inequality and widespread poverty.