: African press review 14 December 2015

We begin with the unsettling storm lashing South Africa after President Jacob Zuma flip flopped on his choice of the country’s Finance Minister.

The country’s papers were in a race against time all through Sunday as the commentators struggled to understand President Zuma’s mindset after he decided to  appoint Pravin Gordhan as his new finance minister in place of David “Des” Van Rooyen, sworn in just four days earlier.

Gordhan is a highly-respected member of the South African Communist party and a former Finance minister who was prior to his appointment the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Zuma’s government.

As Mail and Guardian reports, that President Zuma’s change of heart was an exercise in damage control as there was such a sense of country-wide grief at his original sacking of Nhlanhla Nene who had been incharge of the strategic portfolio until May 2014.

The axing of the well respected and knowledgeable Nene, late on Wednesday last week, had sent the Rand into a tailspin – with the currency plummetting to beyond 16 to the dollar. According to the paper, civil society, business, unions and other pressure groups forced the change by piling pressure on the ANC.

“Allowing financially illiterate President Jacob Zuma to impose his ideas on South Africa’s fiscal policy is akin to handing a practicing alcoholic keys to the booze cabinet” fumed the influential electronic newspaper “News24.com.

Pravin Gordhan’s return to his old job is a sign of the changing dynamics of South African politics, according to Mail and Guardian.

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The paper reports that allies of the ruling African National Congress demand to be consulted on cabinet reshuffles. The South African Communist party and the country’s powerful Trade Union COSTU, both members of the ruling troika, want the tri-partite alliance and not just the ANC to be the strategic decision makers when it comes to appointing ministers.

The rand recovered almost 80 cents to the US dollar on Sunday evening following Pravin Gordan’s return to his old post, reports Times Live.

According to the paper, Gordhan’s appointment will also put to bed speculation that South Africa will veer off from its cost saving policy, that Treasury is easily influenced by political agendas, including that it will budge and approve a controversial renegotiation of the controversial South African Airways Airbus deal largely rumoured to be the reason for Nhlanhla Nene’s dismissal.

In another reaction to the confusion in Pretoria, City Press says the heavy toll of the Zuma presidency is incalculable. According to the paper he has destroyed domestic and international confidence in South Africa’s fiscal management regime with the stroke of the pen.

For the paper, Zuma’s corruptible ways have “infected the ranks of the ANC” and encouraged a culture that seems to say that access to public office equals access to the public purse.

And in a damning conclusion City Press warns that “this rapacious practice has spawned factionalism on a grand scale as members fight over what rightfuly belongs to the public”.

Source: rfi afrique