PRETORIA – President Jacob Zuma has instructed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, to cancel the international investment promotion roadshow to the United Kingdom and the United States and to return to South Africa immediately.
Gordhan, who was already in London, was meant to embark on a non-deal international investor roadshow in the two countries, starting in the UK today for two days, before taking the roadshow to Boston in the USA on Wednesday with Jonas. They would have concluded the roadshow in New York on Friday.
The Presidency had reportedly already given written permission for the trip, but has now rescinded authorisation.
Treasury last week said it has a long standing strategy of engaging investors on a regular basis. The purpose of the roadshow was to provide an update on the most recent developments, engage constructively with investors and share government’s thinking behind its latest policy proposals.
Reacting to the news on Monday, DA National Spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme tweeted: “What an irresponsible non-statement, given the likely impact on the markets. An explanation WHY is necessary, not mere confirmation.”
The DA’s David Maynier, Shadow Minister of Finance, said: “President Jacob Zuma must explain the bizarre recall of Pravin #Gordhan.”
He called Zuma’s instruction a “major setback for the economy in South Africa”, as the Rand is expected to suffer.
Maynier said: “The instruction to cancel the international investor roadshow without explanation is so bizarre that it appears, at best, calculated to humiliate the minister or, at worst, to suggest that the minister is about to be fired in a cabinet reshuffle.”
Fedusa’s Dennis George says with no reason provided this has become beyond a political problem and is now an “economical and constitutional crisis”. (Watch below).
The Finance Minister and his Deputy had already confirmed several meetings. Investors are now wondering whether Gordhan will obey the President’s orders or not.
Speculation has been rife that Zuma wishes to appoint disgraced former Eskom chief, Brian Molefe, in a top financial position.
Several commenters believe the Zupta Family, with whom Zuma is believed to share close ties, are behind this latest decision as they have allegedly filed papers ordering Gordhan to be present at a court hearing this week.
The ministerial delegation abroad included National Treasury’s Director General, Lungisa Fuzile, and key National Treasury officials representing business and labour.
UPDATE: Naledi Pandor confirmed she was appointed as acting Finance Minister by President Zuma while Gordhan was away. The Treasury has confirmed that Gordhan and Fuzile will return from London on a flight this evening, expected to arrive in South Africa Tuesday morning. Jonas, who was scheduled to leave tonight to join the US part of the trip will no longer leave SA.
– Sources include SAnews.gov.za
— Sherwin Bryce-Pease (@sherwiebp) March 27, 2017
— eNCA (@eNCA) March 27, 2017
— ZA Confidential (@ZAConfidential) March 27, 2017
Most interestingly, does anyone know where Brian Molefe is? #Gordhan
— Rocky Sididzha (@rocsid808) March 27, 2017
— NTS (@therealnts) March 27, 2017