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Friday 9 December 2016

Calls for Zuma to resign after ministerial firings

Aislinn Laing in Johannesburg

Published 15/12/2015 | 02:30

President Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma is under pressure to step down after he changed South Africa's finance minister twice in five days, wiping billions off the stock market and raising fears of another ratings agency downgrade.

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Senior figures in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) have broken ranks to demand Mr Zuma's resignation after the sudden removal of two finance ministers in quick succession.

Nhanhla Nene, a respected figure who had calmed investor fears, was sacked last Wednesday and replaced by David van Rooyen, an almost unknown politician. The rand immediately fell by 5pc against the dollar.

Apparently stung by this reaction, Mr Zuma abruptly removed Mr van Rooyen and appointed Pravin Gordhan yesterday as the third finance minister in five days.

The turmoil comes at a sensitive moment when South Africa risks being reduced to a country offering junk bonds. Last week, Fitch ratings agency cut its assessment of South African debt to one notch above junk status. One more downgrade would compel the country to pay prohibitive interest rates, something that could risk national bankruptcy.

Opposition leaders called for a vote of no confidence in the president when parliament returns in January. Julius Malema, a former Zuma cheerleader who now runs his own party, said: "If anyone still does not think we are in a banana republic, they cannot be helped."

Irish Independent

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