Tue, 23 Sep 2008 16:03:00 +0000
SOUTH Africa's finance minister resigned along with most leading Cabinet members Tuesday in a move likely to upset the business community and stock market following the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki.
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's departure was a potentially devastating blow for the economic stability of Africa's most powerful nation, and for the new administration expected to take over on Thursday.
The rand weakened against the dollar and stocks extended their losses.
Manuel, his deputy Jabulani Moleketi, eight other Cabinet ministers and three deputies quit along with Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a presidential spokesman said.
Nine of the 10 ministers who resigned belonged to the ANC – a measure of the backlash caused by Mbeki's surprise firing. They include the ministers of defense, intelligence, public enterprises and public services as well as local government and housing minister Sydney Mufamadi, who was the key mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis. Moleketi, the deputy finance minister, is in charge of the finances for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
The news came after South Africa's ruling party - which ousted Mbeki over the weekend -said Tuesday its moderate and conciliatory deputy leader Kgalema Motlanthe would take over as interim head of state.
Manuel, along with Mbeki, won the confidence of local and foreign investors by promoting pro-market policies that have seen the country enjoy an unprecedented growth averaging 5 percent over nearly a decade.
Zuma on Monday sought to allay fears in the business community, saying there would be no changes in economic policy.
Zuma also said no ministers had informed the party that they were resigning and appealed to "all ANC ministers and deputy ministers to continue their work and to serve the people of our country."
Manuel, 52, has been finance minister since 1996, overseeing the economy's longest expansion on record and the first budget surplus. His exit will add to investor concerns about the future of economic policy in the country as Zuma and his labor and communist allies strengthen their influence in the party.