Mixed reaction to Zuma's reshuffle

Last night President Jacob Zuma re-appointed Pravin Gordhan as the new finance minister.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma's decision to reshuffle the ministers of finance and cooperative governance has been described by some as proof he's lost control of the country, but also as a display of good leadership.

Zuma has re-appointed Pravin Gordhan as the new finance minister, he replaces David van Rooyen, who held the position for four days after Nhlanhla Nene was fired.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe says Zuma's decision is a reflection of how much he values the market and public sentiment in South Africa.

"Even though there was a monumental blunder, what is good is having a president who can be persuaded. We have had in the past, a president who was wrong and stuck to his guns."

Professor Somadoda Fikeni, meanwhile, says Zuma bowed to pressure and it's still unclear if the decision to nominate Nene was taken unilaterally.

"The reasons provided are not yet convincing. This is often preceded by extensive internal consultation."

The African National Congress (ANC)'s Keith Khoza says they can neither confirm nor deny this.

"The president might have consulted about the deployment, but I cannot confirm that at this stage."

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Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) wants another motion of 'no confidence' in Zuma to be debated in Parliament.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says he's written to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, asking for the debate to be tabled early in the New Year.

Maimane says a motion of no confidence is the best way of holding Zuma to account for sending the economy into a tailspin.

"Our view is his decisions in the last while show his unfitness to hold office."

Maimane wants the opening of Parliament brought forward to the second week of January so the no confidence debate can be held as soon as possible.

"It must be tabled through a secret ballot and members of the executive, who have direct benefit in the matter, cannot participate in the debate."

Maimane believes a secret ballot will stiffen the resolve of ANC MPs to vote against their party's leader.

A motion of no confidence requires a simple majority to succeed, but the DA's stab at a similar motion in May was easily defeated.

At the same time, ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang says the public backlash surrounding Zuma's latest cabinet reshuffle presents an opportunity for the leading party to "regroup".

Msimang is one of many prominent leaders who had warned Zuma against his decision to redeploy Nene.

While he hopes public pressure has influenced Zuma's latest move, Msimang has slated government and its performance over the years, saying the presidency needs to chart a new way forward.

"It's a period that's marked by scandal and misadventure, but worst for me is the fact that this seems to be happening to Jacob Zuma and less of the people sat back and folded their hands. One has to speculate for fear or for lack of understanding that we were being led to an abyss."