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South African finance minister pulled from overseas tour

A request from President Zuma that finance minister Pravin Gordhan and deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas to return home in the middle of important worldwide investor roadshows is now under the spotlight.

Gordhan told reporters shortly after landing at Johannesburg's worldwide airport that he was focused on restoring faith in Africa's most industrialized economy and had met with about 50 investors while in London.

The conflict between Zuma and Gordhan has how exacerbated, as the president had said in a conversation with his political allies he intends to fire the Finance Minister.

He and Treasury officials still do not know the reason for their sudden recall from their overseas roadshow, which has fuelled speculation of a dramatic political showdown.

If Gordhan or his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, are fired, "the selloff will be vigorous", said Jonathan Hertz, chief executive officer of Peregrine Holdings Ltd., which has 105 billion rand in assets under management.

"They were told last night or this morning to come back".

In an opinion editorial published by Daily Maverick on Tuesday, Muthambi charged that there was a myth created that Gordhan, who's widely speculated to be axed by Zuma from Cabinet, was a "defiant super-minister". The African National Congress officials who oppose Zuma's plan include Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The currency had even more jitters as Gordhan reported to the ruling party's headquarters, fresh from his flight on March 28.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was in the United Kingdom for the first leg of a weeklong investor roadshow in London, New York and Boston when he was instructed by the office of President Jacob Zuma to immediately return to South Africa.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gordhan told journalists that he was still the Finance Minister.

The president removed Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in 2015 and replaced him with Des van Rooyen.

But South African media reports suggest Zuma and Gordhan have an uneasy relationship, though the president has denied suggestions he is "at war" with his finance minister.

Rating agencies S&P and Fitch both rank the sovereign debt of Africa's most industrialised economy one level above junk, while Moody's puts it two notches higher. "And President Zuma's action in summoning any minister falls within the realm of his constitutional role and powers‚" Muthambi wrote in article published on the Daily Maverick website.

Gordhan has asked the court to rule that he should not be expected to agree to requests by the Guptas that he intervene to help reverse a decision by major banks to close some of the business accounts of the brothers' Oakbay Investments.

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