Nicola Mawson. Picture: Matthews Baloyi
I wouldn't have liked to have been in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s shoes these past few days.

He’s had one hang of a week. Gordhan has been recalled from an international roadshow to the US and UK, faced the Guptas in court, received a standing ovation at Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral and then went through the rigmarole of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon, all before being fired on Thursday night.

(Call it irony, or sarcasm, but President Jacob Zuma didn’t go to Uncle Kathy’s funeral “in compliance with the wishes of the family”, which translates to “we don’t want you there”. However, one must bear in mind that Kathrada called for Zuma to step down.)

I doubt we’ll ever know what’s behind Gordhan’s Monday recall from the investor roadshow - and goodness only knows we need the investment, although that's rather moot this morning.

Gordhan's recall stirred up quite a bit of speculation that Gordhan would be sacked - a concern that we all pretty much took as fact - and sent the rand plummeting. The rand dropped even more after he was replaced as Finance Minister by former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Sure, there’s been all sorts of speculation around why Gordhan was told to come home.

Perhaps the one that’s closest to home is that he’s stopped needless spending.

Gordhan has done a massive amount to rein in spending.

He’s nixed deals that he viewed as dodgy and a waste of taxpayers’ money, he’s stood up for what he feels is right and fair - such as when he told the Guptas he couldn’t legally intercede in their relationship with their ex-bankers.

That’s why he’s in court now - although going to court to ask for an order that the law is the law is perhaps taking it a bit too far.

A good minister

Regardless, Gordhan was seen as a good, solid - albeit stoic - Finance Minister.

The international investment community loved him. They saw him as having a stable hand on our fiscal and economic tiller.

This is evident in the way the rand plunged after news of his recall. Before it was even confirmed by the Presidency, the rand was dropping.

It dropped over worries that Gordhan would be swept out of the cabinet, and replaced by Eskom’s former chief executive, Brian Molefe.

That the cabinet shuffle hadn’t happened yet didn’t detract investors from moving.

Many of them would have been concerned over Molefe’s alleged - by former public prosecutor Thuli Madonsela but hotly denied - links to the Guptas, who are known to be friends of Zuma, and what this means for wise investments in South Africa.

They will, understandably, be concerned about where money they spend in South Africa will go: to where it’s needed, or into a politician’s pocket.

Let’s face it, if some people in the UK believe we go around from town to town on a donkey cart, they’ll still believe that all African politicians do is line their pockets.

Read also: Gigaba an unknown quantity - analysts

And Gordhan is known for putting on the fiscal brakes.

In his February Budget - hopefully not his last - he noted that National Treasury is trying to keep government debt to below 50percent of gross domestic product, a target the minister expects to be met in the next three years - it was at 50.7percent, or R2.2trillion.

Our current account is also looking healthier: narrowing more than expected in the fourth quarter of last year to its lowest in nearly six years, admittedly helped by a surge in mining exports after a rise in global commodity prices.

The rand, until recently, was also on the up, inflation had dropped, and we seemed set for a pause in rate hikes, if not a reversal.

All of this is good for the economy.

An unknown quantity holding the purse strings is not. Just look at what happened when Nhlanhla Nene was replaced by Des van Rooyen.

Some may be glad to see the back of Gordhan.

I, and many others I’m sure, am sorry to see the back of him.

Nicola Mawson is the online editor of Business Report. Follow her on Twitter @NicolaMawson or Business Report @busrep.

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