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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

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South Africans express mixed views about latest cabinet reshuffle

by Ndumiso Mlilo JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africans have expressed mixed feelings over President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle which was done in the early hours of Friday morning.

Five ministers were relinquished of their duties while other five were given other portfolios.

Zuma said the reshuffle is meant to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Donald Liphoko, director general, Government Communication and Information Systems welcomed the the newly appointed government officials.

"The appointments made by the president are aligned to improving efficiency and effectiveness in the system and the government is confident that the ministers and their deputies will hit the ground running to ensure the continuity of government programs to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality," said Liphoko.

The Chamber of Mines expressed displeasure over Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s sacking on Friday.

They said business, labor and the Treasury have worked hard over the past years to protect South Africa’s credit rating.

Charmane Russell, spokesperson of the Chamber of Mines, said the leadership stability and capability in the Finance Ministry are crucial to sustain progress on avoiding a downgrade.

"The Chamber of Mines is seriously concerned at the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan as the Minister of Finance, a move that can only be described as bizarre and difficult to understand, particularly as it comes at a time when South Africa’s sovereign credit rating is at risk and investor confidence in the economy is at a very low level," said Russell.

"The firing of well-respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is unacceptable."

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said he is unhappy that Gordhan was fired.

Addressing the media, he said:

"I am especially unhappy about the firing of Gordhan and his deputy, to which the financial markets will react negatively.

"I think it is totally unacceptable that he fired someone like Gordhan, who has served the country excellently, for his own gain and survival."

South African ruling party Africa National Congress (ANC) said said the reshuffle has led to national office bearers to express different views.

Zizi Kodwa, ANC spokesperson said:

"The ANC will meet soon to further appraise each other on this matter and collectively give guidance and leadership to the organization."

"Accordingly, ANC calls on its members and leaders to display unity of purpose at this time.

"Members and leaders of the organization are expected to focus more on what contributes to unify the nation than what divides us," said Kodwa.
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UPDATES:

South African deputy president denies resignation rumours

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa Saturday denied reports that he had resigned as a show of objection to the recent cabinet reshuffle.

"There is no truth to the dissemination of this falsehood," Ramaphosa said in response to rumours that he has resigned in protest against the drastic cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma in the early hours of Friday.

Ramaphosa said earlier he was unhappy with Zuma’s decision to reshuffle the cabinet and was particularly opposed to the removal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Before effecting his cabinet reshuffle, which affected 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers, Zuma met African National Congress (ANC) leaders, but it was just a process of informing them of his decision, according to Ramaphosa.

"It was not a consultation, because he came with a ready-made list," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa raised his objection about the removal of Gordhan, largely as he was being removed based on an intelligence report that he and his deputy were going to London to mobilize financial markets against South Africa.

This report had unsubstantiated allegations, Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa also confirmed Saturday that Ramaphosa "remains in his position" as deputy president and that of the ruling ANC.

"We reiterate his view that he will remain in government to serve the people in the realization of the national objective of pushing back the frontiers of poverty, unemployment and inequality," Mamoepa said.
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Zuma not cancelling memorial service for anti-apartheid stalwart: presidency

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African Presidency on Saturday denied reports that President Jacob Zuma has cancelled the memorial service for anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada.

Kathrada, who died on Tuesday morning at 87, last year sent a letter to Zuma calling on him to resign, citing his alleged involvement in a series of corruption scandals.

"As is publicly known, the President did not attend the funeral and was not going to attend the memorial service either, respecting the wishes of the family," presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.

Zuma declared a Special Official Funeral for the late stalwart and directed the government to organize an official memorial service to be addressed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of the government.

Zuma was not involved in the planning of the memorial service nor in the cancellation thereof, said the spokesperson.

"Any impression created that the President cancelled or ordered the cancellation is erroneous and unfortunate," Ngqulunga said.

The South African government first planned an official memorial service for Kathrada on Saturday, but postponed it indefinitely without giving any reason.

Instead, several organizations arranged a memorial service for him in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Regarded as a giant of the African National Congress (ANC), Kathrada spent over 26 years in prison, 18 of which were on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela, who later became South Africa’s first black president, was also imprisoned.

Kathrada has had an illustrious political career, having served between 1994 and 1999 as the parliamentary counsellor to then President Mandela.
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Growing calls for motion of no confidence in Zuma

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Calls grew on Friday for an urgent sitting of Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma following a drastic cabinet reshuffle.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said it has written to Parliament Speaker Baleke Mbete for this purpose.

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, together with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, added their voices to the DA’s call, urging ministers and leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) to speak up and call on the president, in the best interests of the country, to step down.

The DA tabled a motion of no confidence in Zuma on March 30 after hearing that Zuma would sack Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle.

"A debate on this crucial motion simply cannot wait and it should be scheduled for next week," the DA said on Friday.

Zuma effected the reshuffle early Friday in what was believed to be one of his most drastic moves during his tenure.

The reshuffle affected 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers, notably Gordhan.

The move plunged the country into chaos and caused division among the ranks of the ANC.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC Secretary General Gwete Mantashe both voiced objection to the reshuffle.

But the government issued a statement on Friday, expressing support for the reshuffle.

The reshuffle is aligned to improving efficiency and effectiveness in the system and the government is confident that the ministers and their deputies will hit the ground running to ensure the continuity of government programs to realize Vision 2030, which is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, government spokesperson Donald Liphoko said.

Parliament has not responded to the call for the no confidence vote.

For a vote of no confidence motion to be successful, it requires 201 of the 400 National Assembly MPs to vote in favour.

If the motion is successful, then the president, his deputy, cabinet ministers and all their deputies must resign as provided for in section 102 of the constitution.

Zuma has survived at least two no confidence motions in Parliament, dominated by ANC MPs.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Africa ruling ANC calls for unity after cabinet reshuffle

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Friday called for unity among its ranks following an overnight cabinet reshuffle which reportedly has plunged the country into chaos.

"Members and leaders of the organization are expected to focus more on what contributes to unify the nation than what divides us," the ANC said.

This came after President Jacob Zuma announced changes to the cabinet in the early hours of Friday.

The reshuffle, seen as one of Zuma’s most dramatic moves during his tenure, affected 20 ministers and deputy ministers, notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

This has led to ANC members expressing varying opinions on the reshuffle.

Among them is Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who objected the reshuffle.

Before effecting his cabinet reshuffle, Zuma met top ANC leaders, but it was just a process of informing them of his decision, according to Ramaphosa.

"It was not a consultation, because he came with a ready-made list," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa raised his concern and objection about the removal of Gordhan, largely because he was being removed based on an intelligence report that he and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas were going to London to mobilise financial markets against South Africa.

This report had unsubstantiated allegations, Ramaphosa said.

"Now that I find totally totally unacceptable that a person who has served our country with such distinction would do something like that," he said.

Ramaphosa said this reminded him of his own situation in 2001 when there was an intelligence report that alleged that he was involved in a plot to overthrow the government of then President Thabo Mbeki.

In view of differing views about the reshuffle, the national officials of the ANC will meet soon to further appraise each other on this matter and collectively give guidance and leadership to the organization, ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

South Africans have bestowed upon the ANC the leadership responsibility to make a success of the country, thus requiring committed and focused action amongst members and leaders of the organization, working hand in glove, with all societal partners, Kodwa said.

"The ANC therefore at all times should focus on common and national challenges in the interest of the people and to advance their aspirations," he said.

Accordingly the ANC calls on its members and leaders to display unity of purpose at this time, said Kodwa.

From time to time there shall be divergent views on the nature and means to achieve the type of society the ANC wishes to construct, Kodwa said.

"Diversity and plurality of views does not mean division but robust and necessary engagement within our movement in our quest to deliver on our responsibility to our people," said Kodwa.

Members of the Executive are as always expected to display the highest levels of integrity, selflessness, trustworthiness, honesty and commitment to serve the people in the execution of their duties, added Kodwa.

Also on Friday, lobby group Save South Africa (SSA) vowed that its members would occupy the National Treasury until their cries were heard.

Scores of SSA members gathered outside the National Treasury in Pretoria, protesting against the reshuffle and calling for Zuma to step down.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation has asked Zuma to explain to the country why he decided on the cabinet changes.

Gordhan’s removal intensifies the notion that the process of total state capture has now been set firmly in motion, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) said.

This refers to the undue influence exerted by the Indian Gupta family on Zuma.

FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George said his organization "is deeply disappointed and outraged" with the manner in which Zuma has handled the cabinet reshuffle.
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South African stocks close weaker after cabinet reshuffle

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) closed weaker on Friday as banks, financials, and retailers stocks plummeted after a cabinet reshuffle by South African president Jacob Zuma.

Investors were shocked by the cabinet reshuffle which saw Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan replaced by former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.

The South Africa rand was trading at R13.42 to the U.S. dollar, R14.34 to the euro, and R16.76 to the pound at 5: 00 p.m. (CAT).

The all share was 0.39 percent lower at 52,056.06 points and the blue-chip top 40 rose 0.12 percent.

Banks were down 6.14 percent, general retailers lost 3.9 percent, and financials lost 3.03 percent.

The gold index added 3.79 percent and resources gained 0.25 percent.

The industrial index gained a modest 0.38 percent.

Among individual shares on the JSE, Glencore gained 3.15 percent to R52.45 and Anglo American was up 2.12 percent at R206.44.

Harmony jumped 10.53 percent to R32.85 and Anglo America rose 0.93 percent to R204.04.

Losses among the big banks, Standard Bank was 6.47 percent lower at R143.75, and Barclays Africa shed 7.16 percent to R139.51.

Old Mutual was down 2.41 percent to R33.51 and Sanlam dropped 1.88 percent to R67.37.

Among retailers, Woolworths dropped 2.73 percent to R70.01 and Shoprite shed 3.44 percent to R193.6.
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SEE ALSO:

South African President Jacob Zuma fires his Finance Minister

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