Reuters reports that President Zuma's sacking undermines his authority and will threaten to split the African National Congress (ANC) that has governed since the end of apartheid.
South Africa was granted a reprieve at the end of a year ago when rating agencies did not drop it to the "junk" investment category following a series of downgrades, but they warned of the impact of poor growth and political instability. The recall caused South Africa's rand to tumble, another blow to Africa's most industrialized economy that grew just 0.5 percent past year.
Government bonds have weakened, and analysts are warning that South Africa's credit rating could fall into junk status. "South Africa is pretty much in the penalty box for investors now", said Moz Afzal, global chief investment officer of Swiss investment manager EFG Asset Management.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said it would file an urgent legal request to try and block the reshuffle and separately push for a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in the President. The recall caused speculation that Gordhan would be removed from his position.
Deputy Ramaphosa took a defiant stance and was quoted by ENCA as calling it "unacceptable" particularly since it seemed to be largely based on an intelligence report that, according to the EFF, contained no intelligence.
Gordhan was seen as a bulwark against corruption in an administration that is facing growing criticism for maladministration stealing from the coffers of the State. AFP | Pravin Gordhan, who was sacked late Thursday, is liked and admired by many ordinary South Africans - an unusual achievement for any finance minister.
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Zuma would make an announcement on changes to his cabinet later on Thursday, the president's office said in a statement.
Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize has given his first response to President Jacob Zuma's removal of Pravin Gordhan from the finance ministry, saying he has his reservations about the process that was followed. On Saturday, top party official Zweli Mkhize said Zuma had not consulted with senior party leaders as usual before shaking up his Cabinet.
Gordhan became South Africa's finance minister after Zuma's abrupt decision in December 2015 to fire Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replace him with a relatively unknown figure, David van Rooyen, unsettled markets and prompted a national outcry.
"The appointment of Fikile Mbalula as minister of police is evidence that pres Zuma is not serious about combating crime".
The reshuffle came just hours after SACP second deputy secretary Solly Mapaila said Zuma had spoken to the party about his intention to remove Gordhan but the SACP objected.
The cabinet purge has sharpened the internal conflict between an anti-Zuma faction, which is believed to support Mr. Ramaphosa as his successor, and the Zuma faction, which is trying to elevate his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as his successor when his term expires as ANC leader in December.