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New South African finance minister pledges reforms amid ruling party rifts

Malusi Gigaba has promised "radical economic transformation" amid concerns about corruption at top levels of the government. Gigaba succeeded widely respected Pravin Gordhan after he was fired by President Jacob Zuma.

Malusi Gigaba, South Africa's new finance minister, admitted that a "climate of sharp disagreement and mutual suspicion" exists in the country following the sacking of Pravin Gordhan, a widely respected economist and former finance minister.

Gordhan's dismissal has deepened the split in the country's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. Even the opposition parties criticized President Jacob Zuma's decision to fire Gordhan.

Südafrika Finanzminister Minister Pravin Gordhan (R) und Zuma (L) (picture-alliance/dpa/N. Bothma)

Former finance minister Gordhan is widely respected in South Africa

The government has reshuffled 10 of the country's 35 ministers, which has created a sense of unease in South Africa. Fitch Ratings predicted it would raise tensions within the ANC and could weaken public finances and governance standards.

The currency of one of Africa's biggest economies has slipped amid concerns about rampant corruption at top levels of government. There are fears that South Africa's economic rating would be downgraded by credit rating agencies.

On Saturday, Gigaba promised to transform the South African economy and said he was aware of the lack of trust in the country. He said he would not "betray our people" and "restore calm."

The inexperienced finance minister said he would also consult Gordhan for advice.

Gigaba vowed to empower the country's black majority by spreading around wealth that according to him has been concentrated in a small number of hands.

Several corruption scandals in the past few years have tainted President Zuma's political image. The ANC lost control of key cities in local elections last year, partly because of the voters' dissatisfaction with the president.

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South Africa finance minister sacked

shs/sms  (AP, Reuters)

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