POLITICS

Treasury In A Panic After Gordhan Called Back From London

The minister of finance was leading a delegation of officials, business and labour on a post-budget roasdhow.

27/03/2017 11:27 SAST | Updated 27/03/2017 12:32 SAST
Ruben Sprich / Reuters
Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance of South Africa attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

DEVELOPING: National Treasury in Pretoria has been sent into a state of panic as news that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had been ordered back to South Africa from an international investor roadshow in Europe and the United States.

Huffington Post South Africa spoke to three sources inside Treasury who said they were "shocked" and "in the dark" about unfolding events. Senior staff are trying to make sense of what this means and are in contact with the delegation in London. The general feeling at Treasury is the move will not go down well with investors.

Both Gordhan and Jonas received permission from the president to travel, in line with long-standing protocols.

The rand deteriorated from R12,34 to R12,61 against the dollar after the news broke. It was trading at R12,55 just after midday.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan got a message from President Jacob Zuma as he landed in London on Monday morning ordering him to return to South Africa as soon as possible, Huffington Post South Africa has confirmed.

BREAKING: Mcebisi Jonas, deputy minister of finance, received a letter on Monday morning form the presidency rescinding permission his to leave the country. He was going to fly to London on Monday night to join Gordhan and the rest of the delegation.

The presidency on Monday confirmed Gordhan and his deputy were told to cancel their promotion roadshow.

"President Jacob Zuma has instructed the Minister of Finance, Mr. Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas to cancel the international investment promotion roadshow to the United Kingdom and the United States and return to South Africa immediately," it said in a statement.

Shocked Treasury staff received the message from their minister on Monday morning. Gordhan jetted out of South Africa on Sunday night; his deputy Mcebisi Jonas was supposed to fly tonight (Monday night). There is widespread panic in the Treasury as the move may signal that a long-rumoured Cabinet reshuffle may be about to happen.

President Jacob Zuma has instructed the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas to cancel the international investment promotion roadshow to the United Kingdom and the United States and return to South Africa immediately.Presidency

The market's tanked as news of the call-back broke. Gordhan received permission from Zuma to go on the trip. It is standard practice for ministers to get presidential approval before they travel out of the country.

Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, the deputy minister of finance, was supposed to lead a delegation of senior officials from National Treasury, business and labour on a post-budget roadshow. They were supposed to meet with a range of investors, major bond holders and the ratings agencies. South Africa still risks a credit ratings downgrade.

The move from Zuma takes place less than 24-hours before Gordhan's application asking the High Court to tell the Guptas to back off Treasury is heard.

Yolisa Tyantyi, Treasury's spokesperson, says she cannot confirm the reports. "We heard about it through the media."

Bongani Ngqulunga, Zuma's spokesperson, was not picking up his phone.