Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday expressed his dissatisfaction with the sacking of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, adding that President Jacob Zuma presented the top African National Congress (ANC) leadership with a “ready made” list of the new Cabinet without consultation.
Ramaphosa said many in the ANC were also unhappy with the removal of Gordhan from Cabinet.
“It was just a process of informing us of his decision, it was not a consultation because he [Zuma] came with a ready made list,” Ramaphosa told reporters in Bloemfontein, Free State.
“I raised my concerns and objection on the removal of the minister of finance … largely because he was being removed based on an intelligence report that I believe had unsubstantiated allegations about the minister and his deputy.”
He said the report, labelled as “shoddy” by the South African Communist Party (SACP), stated that the overseas trip by Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas was to mobilise financial markets against the South African government.
“I found totally unacceptable that such a person who served the country with such distinction would do something like that. It reminded me of my own situation in 2001 … when an intelligence report said I was involved in a plot to overthrow the president Mbeki’s government … when this report came up it disturbed me greatly,” said Ramaphosa.
He said, at the time, he approached former president Nelson Mandela after the report surfaced, who then promised him he would handle the matter.
Commenting further on Gordhan’s axing, Ramaphosa said he told Zuma he would go public about his disagreement to remove the finance minister as the reasons were based on “spurious allegations”.
“I told him I don’t agree with him, and that I would articulate this publicly. So this is where we are … he has made his choice to appoint and remove ministers, and let me say it is his prerogative.”
Earlier, ANC secretary Gwede Mantashe told a radio station that the reshuffle made him “uncomfortable”, and that he did not know where the new Cabinet was formulated or by whom.
Zuma executed the long-anticipated Cabinet reshuffle late on Thursday night. Zuma replaced Gordhan and Jonas with Malusi Gigaba and Sfiso Buthelezi respectively.
The rand tanked overnight as speculations over the change in the country’s executive raged on.
Zuma announced 10 changes to the Cabinet and 10 more at deputy minister level.
Apart from Gordhan, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, who last year mooted a vote of no confidence in Zuma at the ANC NEC, was also axed from Cabinet. Hanekom said he only found out he had been sacked from media reports and that no reason had been advanced.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi, were also fired.
Asked if he would resign in protest, Ramaphosa said he would not do so but would continue to serve the people of South Africa.