South Africa was on tenterhooks on Tuesday with rumours circulating that a cabinet reshuffle was imminent.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan arrived at ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, Luthuli House on Tuesday late morning for a meeting, and left in the early afternoon.
WATCH: Treasury DG Lungisa Fuzile leaves Luthuli House after meetings. Says he doesn't operate on basis of speculation. pic.twitter.com/PNwC22SbVP— Thulasizwe Simelane (@ThulasSims) March 28, 2017
ANN7, which is owned by the Gupta family who are closely associated to President Jacob Zuma, reported on Tuesday afternoon that their sources told them the ANC top six leadership had "endorsed" Zuma's decision to axe Gordhan. They added that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe would not replace him as finance minister, as predicted.
Rumours that Zuma was about to reshuffle his Cabinet, specifically removing Gordhan from his post, have being doing the rounds for well over a year.
Curious charges hung over Gordhan's head for months, until they were finally dropped in October last year, leading to rumours that the charges were trumped up to be used by Zuma as a premise for sacking the finance minister.
But the speculation reached fever pitch on Monday when Zuma instructed Gordhan to return home from an investor roadshow.
On Tuesday, Business Day quoted three sources who claimed that Zuma had told the South African Communist Party that he planned to fire Gordhan.
But speculation then turned to the possibility that Zuma might not make the announcement because of the sudden death of struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada, who died in the early hours of Monday morning.
In February, speculation revved up a notch when former Eskom boss, Brian Molefe was suddenly parachuted into Parliament at an MP. It was widely rumoured that this was a precursor to his eventual ascendency to the finance ministry, as either minister or deputy minister.
So far, Zuma has said little to quell fears, with the exception of a brief comment here. He denied the rumours in a light-hearted comment he gave to eNCA on the sidelines of an investor lunch in February.
"I don't know.. since last year this speculation [about a Cabinet reshuffle] has been there, [but] it has never happened, just forget... I will tell you when I need to tell you," Zuma told eNCA, and joked that he would "put it on Twitter".
[VIDEO] President Zuma gets asked about cabinet reshuffles by a journalist... Take a listen to his answer... pic.twitter.com/pu5sCVvpZH
— eNCA (@eNCA) February 7, 2017
In September last year, the presidency issued a statement denying that a Cabinet reshuffle was imminent. This was prompted by a list of possible Cabinet appointments that circulated on social media.
The list made no mention of the finance ministry, but speculated that, amongst other appointments, Des Van Rooyen would take over the Ministry of Economic Development. MP Pule Mabe was rumoured to become deputy to Lindiwe Zulu at the Small Business Development Department.
There were also rumours that Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom would lose his job after he and other ministers called on Zuma to step down in November last year during a heated NEC meeting. Hanekom later said the rumours did not bother him.