Zuma sacks finance minister, shaking S. Africa

President Jacob Zuma’s midnight sacking of his finance minister shook South African markets on Friday, undermining his authority and threatening to split the African National Congress (ANC) that has governed since the end of apartheid. Lucy Fielder reports.

PRETORIA, JOHANNESBURG, CAPE TOWN AND BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA (ENCA, SABC, REUTERS) – President Jacob Zuma has sacked his finance minister overnight, shaking South African financial markets on Friday.

Zuma’s decision threatening to split the African National Congress, which has ruled since apartheid ended.

Pravin Gordhan was seen globally as a force for stability.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a leading candidate to replace Zuma as ANC president in December, describing the sacking as “totally, totally unacceptable”.

But the party’s own women’s and youth league welcoming the change.

Home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba to step into Gordhan’s shoes.

It’s the culmination of a simmering power-struggle between the two men.

Markets unsettled all week after Zuma abruptly recalled Gordhan from a foreign trip this week.

Zuma informed the so-called “Top Six” ANC members late Thursday to inform them of the reshuffle, which also removed others from the cabinet.

But he didn’t consult them, putting his own neck on the line.

Zuma has been plagued by corruption scandals.

Opposition AND ANC sources saying Zuma removed Gordhan because he stood in the way of his allies’ access to state funds. Some fearing there’ll now be a free-for-all.

Many believe Zuma has weakened his own authority as a debate about his successor cranks up.

This the ANC’s deepest crisis since it swept to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela.