NEWS

Pravin Gordhan: I'm Still The Finance Minister

The rand has been volatile since President Jacob Zuma ordered Gordhan to return from a trip to Britain.

28/03/2017 16:59 SAST | Updated 28/03/2017 17:00 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan walks with his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas as they walk from their offices to a court hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, March 28, 2017.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan flew back to South Africa on Tuesday, obeying an abrupt recall from President Jacob Zuma, and said he was still the finance minister when asked about reports that he was about to be sacked.

The rand, which trimmed its losses to 1 percent against the dollar following his comment, has been volatile since Zuma ordered Gordhan to return from a trip to Britain, rattling investors who see the minister as a focus of stability.

Gordhan said "yes" when asked by a reporter if he was still the finance minister.

He was speaking outside a court in the capital Pretoria, where he attended the hearing of a case over the closure of accounts belonging to friends of the president, the Gupta brothers. The case has been a bone of contention between Zuma and his finance minister.

Talk Radio 702 said Gordhan's dismissal had been discussed on Monday at talks between Zuma and the South African Communist Party, allies of the ruling African National Congress.

The six most senior members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had approved Gordhan's removal, ANN7 television reported, citing unnamed sources. ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, one of the ANC's top six, told Reuters he could not comment on the report.

Gordhan went to the ANC's Luthuli House headquarters in downtown Johannesburg after his arrival, before going to court.

Zuma's order to return cut short Gordhan's investor roadshow in Britain and the United States, triggering jitters that a long-running power struggle between the two men was coming to a head and threatening more turmoil for Africa's most developed economy.

"The president is my boss so if he asks us to come back, we come back," Gordhan said upon his arrival earlier on Tuesday.

"There are many in government who want to do the right thing and make sure we keep our economy on track and keep our development moving in the right direction," he added without elaborating.

(Additional reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, Olwethu Boso, TJ Strydom, Tanisha Heiberg and Joe Brock in Johannesburg and Siyabonga Sishi in Pretoria; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Jon Boyle)