S Africa opposition asks court to cancel removal of finance minister

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South Africa’s largest opposition party has filed a court application against President Jacob Zuma’s decision to fire finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) described the sacking of Gordhan as a big blow to the economy.

DA asked the North Gauteng High Court to cancel the decision “on the grounds that it was irrational, and therefore unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid,” the party said in a statement.

The DA is also seeking an emergency session of parliament to handle a no-confidence motion against Zuma and has called for nationwide protests against the president on Friday.



It said members of Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) had threatened it with violence and that it would file criminal charges against them while going ahead with the peaceful protests.

Gordhan had enjoyed the confidence of investors, and Zuma replaced him with the inexperienced Malusi Gigaba just as the country’s economic growth slowed to 0.3 per cent last year. More than a quarter of the workforce is unemployed.

The sacking of Gordhan prompted the rating agency Standard and Poor’s to downgrade South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk status on Monday, sending the rand into free fall. Other rating agencies were expected to follow suit.



“Zuma’s decision is likely to cost yet more jobs and will have a lasting and calamitous impact on ordinary South Africans,” the DA said.

The Gordhan affair has threatened to split the ANC, some of whose senior officials reportedly back calls for Zuma to resign.

But on Wednesday, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said the party still stood behind the president.(dpa/NAN)

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