Ricochet News

Global CEOS in Davos quiz Zuma on finance minister reshuffle

Jan 23, 2016
Global CEOS in Davos quiz Zuma on finance minister reshuffle

Global chief executives and chairs of multinational corporations raised the issue of the change of finance ministers with President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Presidency said there was a call for predictability in the context of the finance minister reshuffle which took place at the end of 2015. There were also discussions around the effect it had. Issues relating to policy and the need to see them implemented were also raised.

"The president responded that while governments all over the world are entitled to change ministers, South Africa had responded without delay when concern was raised, especially given the economic climate," Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola said.

"The meeting [in Davos] appreciated the swift changes that were made afterwards, which resulted in the appointment of Minister Pravin Gordhan as the minister of finance."

In December Zuma faced a backlash after he announced that he was replacing Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene with ANC MP David van Rooyen.

There was a public outcry and calls for Zuma to be recalled over the move, which saw the rand reach record lows. Four days after the announcement, Zuma backtracked, replacing Van Rooyen with Gordhan, who was a respected former finance minister. The rand recovered somewhat.

On Thursday it was reported that Zuma pulled out of a panel discussion on Africa at the last minute at the WEF, asking Gordhan to take his place.

But Biznews reported that Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn did not accept Gordhan as a replacement and even threatened to withdraw rather than share the stage with him. At the last minute, Rwandan President Paul Kagame took Zuma’s seat.

The Presidency said at the time that the Biznews report was "inaccurate and mischievous".

"The Presidency informed the organisers last week that the president would be unable to participate in the debate. The presidency's advance team in Davos also informed the organisers that the president would not participate," it said.

On Friday, Zuma and his delegation of ministers at the WEF met the CEOs and chairs during a business interaction on South Africa.

This was an annual meeting during which the president and ministers hold discussions with international investors to talk about opportunities in the country and to get their views on improving the investment climate, the Presidency said.

South Africa recognised the importance of foreign direct investment which accounted for 42% of the country's gross domestic product.

"[Zuma]... assured the business community that South Africa’s economy is resilient, that the country has a strong and vibrant democracy with an active and vocal citizenry and vibrant media, all of which acts as good checks and balances to the leadership in the country,"  said Majola.