South African President, Jacob Zuma told senior leaders of the South African Communist Party, which is allied to his ruling African National Congress, during a meeting on Monday in Johannesburg, that he plans to fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan according to three people who were present and asked not to be identified because a public statement has not been made.

Zuma, 74, ordered Gordhan to cancel meetings with investors in the UK and the US and return home on Monday, a day after he had flown to London to begin the week-long roadshow in Britain and the United States, the presidency said on Monday.

Reports indicate that the rand fell by around 1.7 percent to the dollar after Pravin was instructed to come back to the country. At around 5:50am, the rand had extended its recent gains trading at R12,33 to the dollar.

The Banking Association of SA warned that the step could lead to a credit rating downgrade, which Gordhan has worked to avoid since returning to the helm of National Treasury in December 2015.

“This action by the Presidency rolls back the progress we have made as a country. It also militates against the imperative of ensuring political and policy certainty,” the MD of the group, Cas Coovadia, said.

“Another potential outcome of this action could be a consideration by rating agencies to downgrade SA to sub-investment grade status. This would be very negative for banks and other corporates, whose ratings would follow the sovereign.”

Social Media has been abuzz since the news broke, some worried about the weakening currency, others turned the decline of the rand as a meme opportunity.

Here are some of the memes under the #Rand and #Gordhan trend on Twitter:


Speculation that Gordhan is on the verge of being fired has swirled for months, as he clashed with Zuma over the management of state companies and the national tax agency.

While Gordhan has led efforts to keep spending in check and fend off a junk credit rating, Zuma wants to embark on “radical economic transformation” that he says will tackle racial inequality and widespread poverty.

Monday’s directive from the presidency came after more than a year of tension between Zuma and the finance minister, who last year described a decision to charge him with fraud as “political mischief”.

The matter never made it to court as the charges, which related to the re-employment of a top official at the South African Revenue Services, were withdrawn some weeks after they were brought.

Gordhan has openly and frequently referred to the uncertainty of his situation.

Earlier this month, he told Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts that National Treasury came under political pressure when it was obliged to intervene when other government departments failed to do their job.

“We get into this sloganeering … contain Treasury, take over Treasury. You have all heard it, and I don’t think it is child’s play at the end of the day.”

He added: “I am still standing.”

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