Pravin Gordhan has been appointed Minister of Finance, replacing newly appointed David van Rooyen. File photo: GCIS

President Jacob Zuma has reversed his disastrous decision to appoint little-known MP David van Rooyen as finance minister, bringing Pravin Gordhan back to steady the ship.

After the announcement that he had fired the respected Nhlanhla Nene played havoc with the markets and the rand exchange rate, the president said in a statement he had received “many representations to reconsider my decision”.

He had, after “serious consideration and reflection”, decided to reinstall Gordhan, who was finance minister during Zuma’s first term as president.

He said Gordhan would ensure “an even stronger alignment between the budget and the medium-term strategic framework”, the government’s five year blueprint to give effect to the National Development Plan, “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”.

Van Rooyen, thrust into the most powerful ministerial post despite having no national or provincial government experience last week, vacates the post after being sworn in on Thursday and will now fill Gordhan’s Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs post.

Gordhan, who had been under attack over allegations that a “rogue” intelligence unit was allowed to operate at the SA Revenue Service under his watch, said he regarded it as his “responsibility to serve and to help the country onto a path of economic growth and recovery”.

In a clear message to the markets that concerns over the government’s commitment to sustainable budgeting had been taken on board, Zuma said among Gordhan’s tasks would be to “promote and strengthen the fiscal discipline and prudence” that had characterised its management of public finances.

Gordhan would also ensure adherence to the set expenditure ceiling while maintaining a stable trajectory of the country’s debt portfolio, as set out in the February 2015 Budget, Zuma said.