By John Martin

A late-night cabinet reshuffle by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is an assault on the poor, says Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. Five senior ministers, including key figures in the finance team, lost their jobs in what opponents dismiss as a bid to shore up a corrupt and incompetent leader.

“Who stands to lose when we can’t raise foreign investment to finance growth in our country? The poor,” the archbishop said March 31. “Who stands to lose when interest rates on the money we already owe gobbles up our nation’s resources? The poor. Who stands to gain when corrupt elites enrich themselves on the side while doing deals worth billions of rands with state-owned enterprises? The people of suburbs like Saxonwold.

“Ignorance can be educated, but there is no cure for recklessness. The president’s decisions are a frightening example of a leader who has continually showed his profound indifference to the economic health of South Africa. It is telling that he failed to secure agreement to this reckless move even from within his own party and the ruling alliance.”

Sacked leaders sacked include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. The treasury team is now in the hands of Zuma loyalists. Gordhan, a highly competent economist, has been highly critical of Zuma. Three members of the energy team were dismissed, all of them opposed to Zuma’s hopes to implement a nuclear energy program.

“I hope the ruling party will reflect on how they are betraying the hopes of our people and take appropriate action,” Makgoba said. “Civil society too will have to consider for how long we stand by helplessly and watch the gains of our democracy destroyed.”

South Africans have been encouraged to wear black armbands to show their disapproval of the firings.

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