27/03/2017 12:53 SAST | Updated 28/03/2017 08:58 SAST

Gordhan Summoned Back: Here's What It Could Mean

President Jacob Zuma dropped a bombshell by ordering Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan back to South Africa. The repercussions are serious.


Read: Gordhan: The Anatomy Of Zuma's Powerplay

1. Cabinet reshuffle

President Jacob Zuma's shock instruction summoning Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan back from an international investor roadshow could mean that the long rumoured Cabinet reshuffle is about to happen.

For months, National Treasury staff awaited the imminent moving of Gordhan. When former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe was appointed an MP in February, it was reported that he would be appointed as either minister or deputy minister of finance.

2. ANC turmoil

If this happens, it will throw the governing ANC into turmoil. Zuma faced a motion of no confidence in his leadership by a substantial number of members of the party's powerful national executive committee in November.

Gordhan has support on the executive, notably from the ministers drawn from the South African Communist Party. These ministers include Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and his Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin.

3. The economy

The rand weakened as news of Gordhan's summons by the president filtered out. South Africa is still teetering on the edge of a credit ratings downgrade and was twice narrowly saved from this fate by the type of investor roadshows that Gordhan has now been recalled from.

4. Challenging the Guptas

Gordhan entered unchartered territory last year when he decided to challenge the politically connected Gupta family, close friends of President Jacob Zuma, by taking them to court. That application — to order the Gupta family's company Oakbay to back off National Treasury — will be heard on Tuesday. Will a new finance minister withdraw the application?

5. Constitutionalists versus rentseekers

There has been a running battle between constitutionalists (those in the governing party and in the public sector trying to protect the public purse) and rentseekers (opportunists extracting wealth from the public sector for narrow ends) for the last couple of years. Gordhan and National Treasury are considered a brake on corruption and cronyism and have many powerful enemies. They are now hitting back.

6. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Dlamini-Zuma has just returned from a stint as African Union Commission chairperson. She is President Jacob Zuma's choice to succeed him as head of state, but needs a platform to campaign from after her stint at the AU ended recently. A senior Cabinet position will do nicely, and she can only be appointed a minister if there's a Cabinet reshuffle. Minister of finance is a nice perch from where to position herself. The former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has been sworn in as an MP ahead of a mooted appointment to the executive.