JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's rand was largely steady against the dollar on Tuesday, hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa removed some ministers implicated in graft in a late night reshuffle, while reappointing others controversially fired by his predecessor.
Ramaphosa, recently sworn in as South Africa's leader, brought back Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, more than two years after he was sacked by former president Jacob Zuma in a move that rattled financial markets. Ramaphosa also appointed Pravin Gordhan as public enterprises minister, about a year after he was also controversially removed as finance minister by Zuma.
The rand was trading at 11.58 to the dollar at 9.30 am in Johannesburg on Tuesday, little changed from 11.56 before Ramaphosa announced the changes on Monday night.
"The reaction in the rand was subdued when compared to the massive weakening moves that were evident when Zuma reshuffled his cabinet (last year) and the reasoning is twofold," said Bianca Botes of Peregrine Treasury Solutions.
"Markets largely anticipated the reshuffle and a big portion of strength has been priced in (and) the composition of cabinet resembles the pressure Ramaphosa is under to maintain a "united" party. Controversial placements such as David Mabuza as deputy president speak to the balancing act Ramaphosa is performing and indicate that, although transformed leadership has taken place, the party as a whole has not been transformed."
Ramaphosa dropped several ministers including some implicated in allegations of "state capture" such as mines boss Mosebenzi Zwane, but others also accused of graft and underpeformance survived the chop.
Zwane, Zuma and other senior government officials all deny charges of having inappropriate ties with the wealthy Gupta family accused of trying to influence the government and state companies.
"The good news is that Nene has been appointed Finance Minister and Gordhan is Minister of Public Enterprises. These appointments to key positions will assist Ramaphosa in the clean-up of these departments following state capture and mismanagement and thus provide support to the rand," Botes said.
"The bias for rand strength will remain in the short term as the field is dominated by key political events, however we do foresee some division in the ANC as Ramaphosa moves to clean up government moving forward which will see some tension remain in the market."
African News Agency