President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle, the news of which started filtering in close to midnight last night, is being referred to as ‘a night of horrors’ and ‘the night of the long knives.’ Arguably, it’s the most controversial of the changes, and has resulted in the axing of Pravin Gordhan as Finance Minister while ex-minister of Home Affairs, Knowledge Malusi Nkanyezi Gigaba, was brought into the position.
Speculation is rife that the strained relationship between Zuma and Gordhan was a large contributing factor to the decision. This escalated following the recall of Gordhan and his colleagues from the international investor roadshow last week.
A list of predictions from Nomura circulated earlier in the week on potential candidates to have taken over from Gordhan, interestingly enough Gigaba was not on it.
“Gigaba, formerly the minister of home affairs, has no experience in the government's economic cluster... Gordhan and former finance minister Trevor Manuel had academic backgrounds in pharmacy and civil engineering, respectively. Gigaba takes over control of the public purse at the age of 46, making him the youngest finance minister in South Africa’s history,” reported ENCA.
Gigaba graduated from the University of Durban-Westville with a Bachelor of Pedagogics (Education) in 1991. He then further completed a Master of Arts degree in Social Policy, majoring in Urban Affairs and Policy, in 1993, graduating in 1994.
“He has been active in various students and youth organisations. He is a member of the ANC and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), and has served in different leadership positions within these organisations, especially the ANCYL. He was elected ANCYL President in 1996 and was re-elected in 1998 and again in 2001 for the third term. Between 1999 and 2001, he was a Member of Parliament for the ANC and resigned in 2001. He was re-elected to Parliament in 2004,” stated the Department of Home Affairs.
In 1999, he was nominated as a Patron of the Celebrating Youth Awakenings Projects (a project aimed at collecting a South African youth anthology). He then went on to serve as the Minister of Public Enterprises from 1 November 2010 until 26 May 2014 as well as the Deputy Minister of the Department of Home Affairs from 29 April 2004 to 01 November 2010. More recently he has served as the Minister of Home Affairs.
Gigaba has also been at the receiving end of a very public affair scandal back in 2015, where his ex-mistress shared intimate details of their relationship.
Supporting Gigaba as the deputy minister capacity is Sfiso Buthelezi who holds a master’s, an honorary and BCom degrees in economics.
A member of the African National Congress (ANC) for more than 30 years, Buthelezi has served as the chairperson of the PRASA board and held position as the chief operations officer for Makana Investment Corporation Limited, reported The Citizen.
While little to no reasoning has been given behind the cabinet reshuffle, the nation remains awe struck by Zuma’s decision. As opinions come flying in as to whether or not Gigaba is the man for the hot seat, at this stage all that’s left to do is wait and see whether he will make the right decisions to bring the economy back on track.