In a controversial, yet not surprising turn of events, president Jacob Zuma has reshuffled his cabinet to effect 20 changes to ministerial posts including a new minister and deputy minister of finance.
Former Home Affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba, has been named to fill the shoes of former minister Pravin Gordhan.
Born Knowledge Malusi Nkanyezi Gigaba, he is the youngest ever minister of Finance at 46 years of age. Despite this, however, Gigaba has been active within the ANC’s political class since gaining his membership into the ANC Youth League in 1990.
He rose quickly through the ranks of the organisation while obtaining a BA degree in education and a masters degree in Social Policy, majoring in Urban Affairs and Policy, at the University of Durban Westville (UDW). He was elected president of the ANCYL three times in 1996, 1998 and 2001.
Elected to the National Assembly in 1999, his political shrewdness gained him favour in both the Mbeki and Zuma camps ensuring he survived Polokwane relatively unscathed. Zuma placed him as deputy minister of Home Affairs in 2009 where Gigaba eased immigration laws between Zimbabwe and South Africa receiving praise by various humanitarian organisations. In 2010 he gained his first ministerial post as minister of Public Enterprises; replacing former minister Barbara Hogan.
He was then placed as minister of Home Affairs in 2014 where his reputation fluctuated due to draconian policies on immigration into the country which had adverse effects on the tourism industry.
Gigaba’s experience and age are a rare combination within the party, with many pundits believing it could fast-track him to a top-six position within the ANC.
As of late Gigaba has come under twitter-fire for attending the funeral of ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada after having publicly appeared a year earlier denouncing him and other former ANC heroes as “disillusioned, so-called stalwarts”.
His second in command and ten years his senior, Sfiso Buthelezi is a longtime ANC member since the age of 20. He was imprisoned on Robben Island for eight years where he obtained his BComm degree. He holds a BComm honours and masters degree from the University of Cape Town and was pegged to replace his recently controversial predecessor as early as last year.
Anything but a novice, Buthelezi recently resigned as the COO of the Makana Investment Corporation to allow for his role in parliament. The corporation was set-up to aid ex-political prisoners and their dependants.
Yet, 2017 will bring new challenges as shock and outrage hold fast in the public sphere after Thursday night’s announcement. Minister Gigaba and deputy minister Buthelezi will be left to learn quickly and act decisively in what may be tumultuous times for the treasury.